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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Matthew West is a recording artist whose singles have topped the charts and been named Billboard’s Most Played Christian Songs in 2004, 2009, and 2010. “The Motions” also earned a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Song in 2010. His albums have sold more than 275,000 copies.
Visit the Matthew's website.
Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including When Wallflowers Dance.
Visit the author's website.
When Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West started writing his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life (Sparrow, 2010) he asked fans to submit personal experiences. More than 10,000 tales of hope, perseverance, and redemption poured in. With friend and author Angela Thomas, West presents some of these powerful stories paired with meaningful devotions they inspired.
Wendy gave birth to her daughter in jail. When all seemed hopeless, she found God and her life transformed into something beautiful.
Cory, a married youth pastor, had an affair and his life fell apart. With God’s mercy, he and his wife gathered the broken pieces and started again.
Sheila always struggled with severe insecurity. Now she lives confidently in the purpose God has for her.
This unforgettable devotional journey inspires readers to discover God as the author of their unique lives and to share the power of their story.
Also available this season—a companion DVD of the same title and an interactive standalone guide Experiencing the Story of Your Life, which allows readers to personalize and explore more deeply the messages of God’s hope and redemption in their stories.
Before Grammy-nominated recording artist Matthew West wrote his top-selling new album, The Story of Your Life, he asked fans to submit their faith stories. Thousands of powerful tales of hope and redemption poured in. Now West and author Angela Thomas share these amazing stories and the meaningful devotions they inspired.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
of Your Story?
From Lajos …
I grew up in Communist Hungary and escaped in 1987 at age 21. I went to a refugee camp as an atheist who mocked Christians, and 18 months later I came out of it turning my life over to Christ. It was a trying, dramatic, and sometimes traumatic experience. But in the middle of what should have been my most hopeless days and nights, I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it.
I went to Canada in 1988. Starting a new life in a new country as a 23-year-old was truly challenging. Without my newly found faith, I probably could not have done it. Now I am following Christ and serving Him by going on mission trips. I want the world to know there is a God, a God who is with us in our darkest moments.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1).
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers of rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15-17).
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…(Hebrews 12:2 nasb).
Matthew Responds …
Who is the author of your story? How did you get here? Do you see the world as nothing more than one big coincidence after another? Did the oceans just tell themselves they could go only so far? Did the sun just appear out of nowhere? What about all the billions of stars in the galaxies or the intricate design of a human life? Is there an answer for all these questions?
When your eyes see a majestic snowcapped mountain climbing a mile high in the Rockies, does the experience leave you awestruck and amazed? When you hold a newborn baby in your arms, are you filled with wonder as you touch the tiny hands and toes and ears? When you witness a great big world with billions of people moving in billions of directions, does your heart scream, “This can’t be mere coincidence! This could not be the work of human hands! There’s no way this all just happened!”
Even the English astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle concluded, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that ‘a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.’ ”
Sadly, more and more people are choosing the former way of thinking. In fact, many studies and polls report that atheism is on the rise both in America and around the world. This really should come as no surprise in a society that places so much emphasis on self-sufficiency. Nike prompted us, “Just Do It.” Burger King invited us, “Have It Your Way.” Apple Computers promised their products would give us “The Power to Be Your Best.”
In our world, all signs point to the notion that you and I are the ones who write the stories of our lives. And so people are choosing to believe there is nothing to believe in. Atheists believe there is no God. And to believe there is no God is to believe we are the authors of our own stories. Yet how can we be the authors of a story we never created? You were not the one who came up with the idea to create you. The decision of whether to believe in God is the foundation that every soul will build its story upon. The story of your life is being written every moment of every day, even as you read this right now. The question you must ask is, who is holding the pen?
In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren begins his very first chapter by establishing where we must first look if we are to find a story with true purpose.
You must begin with God, your Creator. You exist only because God wills that you exist. You were made by God and for God—and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leads to a dead end.
Warren goes on to tell the story of Russian novelist, Andrei Bitov who had a similar experience to our story of Lajos.
Andrei…grew up under an atheistic Communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, “In my twenty-seventh year, while riding the metro in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with a despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely, let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by itself, a phrase appeared: Without God life makes no sense. Repeating it in astonishment, I rode the phrase up like a moving staircase, got out of the metro and walked into God’s light.”
There it is. Without God life makes no sense. Without God our stories have no meaning, no purpose. We live, we die, and that’s it. Our stories end when we die. Oh, what a sad existence if this is true. I once wrote a lyric in a song called “The World Needs a Savior” that reads, “Atheists, there are no atheists when the plane’s going down and you’re crying out for one more chance.” I wrote that line thinking about the reality that when people face crisis, they reach out for help. When our nation, which fights for separation of church and state, fell victim to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, we came together to pray.
I remember something my mom often did when I was a kid and we were in the car. Anytime she was forced to slam on her brakes or swerve out of the way to avoid an accident, her knee-jerk reaction was to stretch her arm out across whoever was sitting in the front seat, either my brother or me, and shout a prayer: “Jesus, help us!” My mom is a praying woman. She always has been, both in times of triumph and times of crisis. She knows whom she can call upon. She knows the all-knowing and all-powerful God. She knows that God hears us when we call out to Him in a whisper of praise or a cry for help.
Whom do you call out to in times of crisis? Lajos was once convinced God did not exist. But in the middle of his loneliest, most desperate hour, this “atheist who mocked Christians” cried out to Jesus. “I could not deny the overwhelming feeling that I was not alone and the peace that came along with it,” he said as the undeniable presence of our Creator turned this atheist into a believer. Lajos handed over the pen right then and there, choosing to make God the author of his story.
Maybe you are thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. I believe in God. I’m no atheist.” Well, let me leave you with this one question. Who is really holding the pen? It is possible to believe in God, go to church, tithe, and do all the things Christians do without fully submitting the story of your life to the true “author and finisher” of our faith. It is a daily struggle to determine who holds the pen, but surrendering our stories to the One who “holds all things together” is the only true way for the stories of our lives to be filled with meaning and purpose.