Saturday, December 22, 2012

Life-Impacting Christian Fiction

 
 
We survived the End of the World! Now what do we do?
by Gina Welborn
 
After a day of dancing, celebrating, and waiting for the world to end (SPOILER: It didn't!), I figured we ought to celebrate with another day of dancing and celebrating because life here on earth continues. I hope you don't mind if we turn off the music.
 
In fact, I've changed out of my daring little black dress and into comfy yoga pants and my favorite black Aeropostle t-shirt. What make-up I have on is remains from yesterday. Don't forget Gina's Beauty Tip #1: Don't wash your face every day; doing so stretches facial muscles. and Beauty Tip #2: Don't smile, grimace, frown; keeping your face motionless decreases opportunity for wrinkles to develop. Show emotion through tone of voice. Of course, never underestimate the importance of a good moisturizer.
 
Love your skin.
Love the skin you're in.
  
Which is why I’m drinking lots of water, eating fruit today, and resisting whatever tempting foods and drinks our baristas are serving.

Eons of days ago (aka, a couple weeks) one of my writing groups had a discussion on “How Christian Should Christian Fiction Be?” Depends on publisher. Depends on author. Depends on target audience. Depends on story. Yada yada yada.

So I got to wondering if CBA fiction is life-impacting or mostly just there for entertainment. I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction. Not that I don’t love fiction. I do!!! Yet has any work of fiction impacted my life like an A. W. Tozer, John Eldredge, or Beth Moore book has?

A few years go Dina practically shoved a copy of THE PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET by Lisa Samson in my hands and said, “You will read this and like it.” Probably an exact quote. On the surface I couldn’t think of one thing that interested me about the novel. Then I read it.
 
Somewhere along journey I realized how much I yearned to have a passion for Jesus like Mary-Margaret had. Ever heard Jars of Clay’s “Love Song for a Savior”?
 
It seems too easy to call you Savior, not close enough to call you God. So as I sit and think of the words I can mention to show my devotion, I want to fall in love with you.
 
That’s what I wanted—to fall in love with Jesus. Thus I began pursuing Jesus. I began praying, “Jesus, scripture says we love you because you first loved us, so show me how much you love me because I want to love you as passionately as Mary-Margaret did.” The more I pray, the more Jesus reveals his love. While I still don’t think I have a passion like Mary-Margaret, I’m getting closer. Yes, a work of fiction has changed my life.
 
The following is a list of testimonies of authors whose lives have been impacted—changed—by Christian fiction.

“I wish I could give you a short list of authors and books that have changed my life, but I can't. What I can give you is a very, very long list of Christian authors who have encouraged my faith, strengthened me in small ways in my faith, acknowledged my faith and my worldview through the medium of entertainment.” ~Christine Lindsey, author of SHADOWED IN SILK
 
IN THE HALL OF THE DRAGON KING by Stephen Lawhead
"What really hit me when I read this (I was 10, I think) is that God even chooses to use young people. Though I'd been told this for all of my life, it took watching this boy go out in faith, against his better judgment, up against things that seemed insurmountable and battle his unwillingness (at times) and fear in order to be used for God's glory. I don't know, really, why this book hit me so dramatically when there are certainly others out there with a similar message, but it's stuck with me for the last almost-30-years. Quinton, and his quest, come back to me as a reminder at odd moments - usually when I'm in the throes of self-doubt - and I remember that God uses whom He chooses, even when it doesn't make sense. All I have to do is be obedient." ~Elizabeth Maddrey, author of WISDOM TO KNOW
 
 A VOICE IN THE WIND by Francine Rivers
“This was the first Christian book that my mom read and said, ‘No. Not until you're older.’ I'd been reading adult Christian fiction since I was about 11, so this made me really curious. And after she finally let me read it at 14, I both understood why she had made me wait and was
forever changed. This book was the first one that brought biblical times alive for me. It was the first that made me ask, ‘What would I do if I was faced with the choice of denying Christ or being killed?’ And it was the first book whose ending made me cry...yet was RIGHT.” ~Roseanna M. White, author of RING OF SECRETS and JEWEL OF PERSIA
 
THE DEBT by Angela Hunt
“The Debt inspired me to reach out to those who may otherwise be overlooked in our society. To go where the people are, not merely expect them to walk through the church doors and gobble up our witness. After reading the novel, my family and I took hot cocoa along with a package of treats and tracts and talked with the homeless milling about the downtown area. What a powerful day! One woman received the Lord as a result of our venture outside the norm. My husband and I serve at an inner city ministry once a month on Saturday nights. Service longevity is a matter of every day choice. We must wake up with the decision to follow through today what the Holy Spirit laid on our hearts yesterday.” ~Eileen Rife, author of SECOND CHANCE
THIS PRESENT DARKNESS by Frank Peretti
“This book encouraged me that PRAYER is just as active as doing other, more applauded Christian activities. Plus, it brought supernatural warfare to the forefront in a fairly believable way. The supernatural realm is real, no matter how we try to ignore it. But the main impetus of the books struck me as twofold: 1) prayer is important for eternity, and 2) not everyone is as good as they seem (and I have found that to be true--Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light).” ~Heather Day Gilbert

THE HEAVENLY DAZE by Lori Copeland
“For the longest time, I feared the end times. Silly, I know. But I did. After reading this series and getting an angel's perspective on life on earth, my fear dissolved, seriously. I began to see what truly matters. I've been a believer for over 20 years and I know deep in my heart what is important. I just let fear overtake me, and these books helped me put in all back in perspective.” ~Joi Copeland, author of HOPE FOR THE JOURNEY

THE DEBT by Angela Hunt
“One line in the book said this, ‘Why are we surprised when sinners sin?’ Why, indeed? An amazing book about one woman's discovery of what Christianity really looks like outside the walls of the church. Truly amazing! And thought provoking, too!” ~Joi Copeland
 
MARK OF THE LYON SERIES by Francine Rivers
“I read some Christian fiction (this was in the late 80’s, early 90’s) but nothing had tempted me overly much. Then someone loaned me the first book in this series. It definitely changed me. First, I learned a TON. I mean the research and history was more than I had any idea about before. That it was done as fiction and kept me spellbound really surprised me. From then on, I wanted to know the historical importance that went along with whatever Scripture I read. I didn’t really know any Scripture by heart, but the theme that ran through the series was, ‘Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him,’ from Job. I began to think about the seriousness of that kind of faith and I knew I didn’t have it. And, it turned me on to Christian fiction, big time.” ~Mary Moore, author of BEAUTY IN DISGUISE

LISTEN by Rene Gutteridge
“There have been many books but the most recent was [this one]. It made me think about the power of words, and about how I sometimes say things in private that I'd never want to say publically. It made me do a lot of thinking about my sometimes undisciplined tongue.” ~Larry W. Timm

SAFELY HOME by Randy Alcorn
“Of course I think that anything written by Randy Alcorn is powerful. That book hit on one of my passions, which is remembering the persecuted church around the world. ~Larry W. Timm

THE SCARLET THREAD by Francine Rivers
“Many books have touched my heart over the years, but The Scarlet Thread stands out as a favorite. It was written so honestly that it touched my heart at a crucial time in my life. It's a contemporary novel about a woman dealing with marital issues and as she struggles through the still-relevant journey, she comes to know Jesus Christ in a personal way. The story really is faith in action.” ~Andrea Boeshaar, author FABRIC OF TIME SERIES

HEARTSONG PRESENTS
“It wasn’t just one book, but a line of books—Heartsongs. I learned that Loree Lough sold nine to the line, so was curious and bought a few. Those little, sweet romances got my feet back onto the path of seeking after the Lord in my life. I think (what impacted me most was) their lack of preachiness, just people learning about God’s love and forgiveness in their everyday lives.” ~Laurie Alice Eakes, author CHOICES OF THE HEART
 
Author MaryLu Tyndall
“Just after I'd been saved, I grabbed my first Christian fiction book (MaryLu Tyndall's THE BLUE ENCHANTRESS) It spoke to me on several levels. Some of the moral issues I'd faced similar to the heroine who had made some bad choices. In July 2010, I needed to have my eye removed because of cancerous melanoma. During my quiet times, I read my Bible, or MaryLu's THE RELIANCE (had to laugh when I discovered the heroine, Charlisse wore a pirate's eye patch for a disguise!) After the surgery, the doctor told me I'd have a lot of pain--gave me meds. Not only did I not have any pain, the bottle remains sealed as a souvenir of God's gracious touch. I continue to do my writing, art work and teaching; just finished pt. 6--("Narrow Passage") of our Colonial Quills Christmas Antholgy, and coincidentally, MaryLu's book VEIL OF PEARLS was offered as a giveaway that day.” ~Pat Iacuzzi

ONE TUESDAY MORNING by Karen Kingsbury
“After 9/11, watching on TV the horrific tragedy of the twin towers coming down, knowing how many first responders were killed trying valiantly to evacuate those buildings, I had a very difficult time praying for first responders. I’d try, and often feel like my prayers were going nowhere. Other times, I’d burst into tears without really understanding why, sometimes just because I saw emergency lights flashing. It got to the point I quit trying to pray for first responders even though I knew I shouldn’t stop. When I read ONE TUESDAY MORNING, it finally clicked. Seeing what happened, recognizing the tremendous impact it had on the lives of so many people, left me traumatized in a way that blocked my ability to pray. That was one of the hardest fiction books I think I have ever read because walking through the trauma with those characters walked me through my own trauma and deeply suppressed grief. Ever since then, I’ve been able to pray again for our first responders without a problem.” ~Dawn M. Turner, author BEYOND HOPE

THIS PRESENT DARKNESS and PIERCING THE DARKNESS by Frank Peretti
"These novels opened my eyes to spiritual warfare. I realize Mr. Peretti’s books are works of fiction and the spiritual battles may not truly look the way he described them. However, his stories brought home the reality of angels and demons fighting in the heavenlies in response to the prayers of the saints. In response to my prayers.” ~Lora Young
 
THE DOG THAT TALKED TO GOD by Jim Kraus
Quirky and yet anyone who's ever experienced suffering and loss will find themselves unexpectedly moved in this bittersweet, honest examination of one character's raw grief, doubts and anger coupled with God's unending love for each soul. This caused me to reflect on the losses in my own life and the various ways—good and bad—I've reacted toward them. ~Lisa Carter, author CAROLINA RECKONING

RECLAIMING LILY by Patti Lacy
Exquisite rendering of all sides of international adoption and the emotional scars many people carry regardless of nationality. Beautiful picture of God's grace and sufficiency. This struck me that no matter the scars of your past, God has a perfect plan for my life. And my life will be at its best and safest in His hands. ~Lisa Carter

BENEATH A SOUTHERN SKY by Deborah Raney
Thought-provoking, Deborah Raney's story will remain etched in your heart and mind forever.
Bittersweet, almost haunting, ending. One of my favorite examples of the truest kind of love. This one helped me to internalize Christ's sacrificial love for me in a whole new dimension. ~Lisa Carter

CROSSING OCEAN by Gina Holmes
Powerful. A journey that takes the reader—heart, mind and body—into one person's dark night of the soul and beyond. This reminded me how though we don't always understand His plans, He desires our ultimate good and through faith, we believe that He will bring His best for us to pass. ~Lisa Carter

LOST AND FOUND by Ginny Yttrup
Ginny has a knack of making you draw closer to God, increasing faith and knowledge about Him. Her characters are believable and easy to relate to and/or identify with. They become friends that, if you aren't careful, you begin praying for.” ~Anne Baxter Campbell

UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS HERO by Kathi Macias
“Kathi writes books that draw attention to a need, in this case homeless people. One is a Viet Nam Vet and the other a widow with two small children. Too many of us tend to turn a blind eye to homeless folks, relegating them to lost causes not worth our time; or perhaps we think the problem is too big for one person to make a difference. Kathi demonstrates in this book that perhaps one person being helped is significant. If each of us who could helped one person, we might be able to get the homeless off the streets and in the process of either becoming productive citizens or at least getting help for their disabilities.” ~Anne Baxter Campbell

THE O’MALLEY FAMILY SERIES by Dee Henderson
“Life can change in small increments - and those changes can last longer. For instance, every romance novel I read reminds me to love my husband! This series showed female characters in non-traditional careers. These women had a focus beyond catching a man and having children. The importance of their work took them out of their homes and often put them in danger. The stories were well written, braiding suspense, romance, and a spiritual thread. They expanded the boundaries of Christian fiction.” ~Cathy Richmond, SPRING FOR SUSANNA
 
Dina Sleiman’s List of Novels that Impacted Her Life
HAVAH by Tosca Lee
Gave me a whole fresh perspective on God's design for marriage and sex and how we mess it up.
BOOK OF DAYS by James Rubart
Gave me a very strong understanding on how important every decision we make is.
ARENA by Karen Hancock
Helped me to understand spiritual warfare on a new level.
A TIME TO DANCE by Karen Kingsbury
Encouraged me to keep trying with my marriage.
EMBRACE ME by Lisa Samson
Helped me to refine what sort of Christian I wanted to be.
PASSION OF MARY-MARGARET by Lisa Samson
Challenged me to give more and sacrifice more.
A STRAY DROP OF BLOOD by Roseanna White
Gave me a new and clearer vision of Christ's sacrifice and the power of his blood.
THE OPPOSITE OF ART by Athol Dickson
Caused me to seek God's face with more passion than before.
DELIVER ME FROM EVIL by Kathy Macias
Awakened me to the plight of sex trafficking on a new level. 



QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:: Have you ever read a Christian novel that impacted your life? How have you been changed by the book? What book(s) are on your 2013 To Read List?
 
 

5 comments:

  1. I admit it. I depend on Dina to share her reading experiences with us.
    Thanks for hosting the party and gathering this list, Gina. I am determined to start the healthier eating today (Will I be able to resist a Christmas dessert?)

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  2. Thank you, Gina. This 'life'changing' list is a keeper.

    Eating healthier today? Oh, please, Deb. I'm stressed enough and need to make some Linser and Peanut Butter cookies today.

    However, eating healthier will be on my schedule for NEXT week. Ha.

    Anita.

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  3. No. I'd like to wait but I had to start today.

    I'm also focusing on getting more editing done. The readjustment period (Going back to work) is over and I have a bunch of empty days to fill with progress!

    Anita and I have a play date online on Monday the 31st. I will try not to overindulge in virtual food either...

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  4. Maybe this could be the start of a "healthier reading list." LOL. I realized recently I've been so focused on reading historical romance for "research" that I've neglected these bigger impactful stories.

    I just finished "Prophet" by R.J. Larson. Amazing and life-changing. Makes me want to hear from God the way she does and have her courage. And I've started "Band of Sisters" by Cathy Gohlke, which I've heard is very powerful. Also added another Athol Dickson book and a Bonnie Grove book to my to-be-read-soon list.

    If I can recommend one book for next year to you all, it will be "Paint Chips" by Susie Finkbeiner, coming from WhiteFire in February.

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  5. Great list! One of the reasons I love reading Christian fiction is because it can be edifying and encouraging. It may not necessarily be life changing but it can lift me up and remind me where to fix my gaze.

    I'm dressed a bit cozier today, too. I wish I didn't have to get out of my jammies, but alas...

    ReplyDelete