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Fresh Start Bible: Giveaway and Review

Many people wait until New Year’s for new beginnings, but any time of year is perfect for a fresh start. What better way to grow our relationship with God than learning more about His Word? The Fresh Start Bible is designed to help us do just that.

What’s Unique about the Fresh Start Bible?

The Fresh Start Bible uses the New Living Translation (NLT) for its biblical scholarship as well as easy-to-read, dynamic writing style. A forward by Jimmy Evans includes his personal testimony and 52 lessons he wrote that address fundamental questions, such as:

  • Who made me?
  • Why do people die?
  • How can I be saved?
  • Why should I be baptized?
  • Can I be saved without baptism?
  • How do I deal with anxiety and worry?
  • How do I build godly relationships?

After this foreword are the Old and New Testaments, and sprinkled among the books of the Bible are supplemental articles by church leaders. They are designed to break down practical teachings and inspire spiritual growth.

Following the Scriptures themselves is a section titled “Intersections” that examines major characters in the Bible’s narrative. Their purpose is to show God’s faithfulness and relationship with men and women through history. Finally, there are also full-color maps that show where Scriptural events take place, including:

  • Topography of Palestine
  • World of the Patriarchs
  • Ministry of Jesus
  • Paul’s Missionary Journeys

What Features Make this Bible a Great Gift?

My church has put a real emphasis on finding our “one,” at least one person God has placed in our lives to be a friend who needs Christian encouragement or an unbeliever who needs someone to point him to Christ. This Bible would be a great gift for my “one” or your “one” for a couple reasons:

  • The first page provides a special place to write someone’s name, your name, the occasion, and date.
  • An easy-to-use table of contents outlines the front matter, books of the Bible, and resources at the end of the edition.
  • Welcome letter by Pastor Robert Morris: This conversational letter invites new and seasoned believers alike to be intentional in reading God’s Word and also explains some of the resources.

My Review Summary

The supplemental material provided throughout this Bible makes it highly approachable and helpful, especially for seekers and new believers. However, readers should understand that none of this information adds to God’s inspired Word, nor do I think that to be the intent of the contributors and publisher. While these commentaries and practical insights offer guidance, readers should still exercise discernment and be aware that believers may disagree on certain areas of practice.

For example, one of the lessons by Jimmy Evans asks the question, “Why should I pray in tongues?” This question assumes that readers should pray in tongues, which is a debatable topic among denominations. Personally, I believe tongues was a unique gift fitted for a unique time period (the church in the book of Acts). However, I can respect Jimmy Evans and others who believe it still has a place today. As with any interpretation of Scripture, readers should exercise discernment and prayerfully examine Scripture and its context.

A Giveaway for You

All that said, I’m glad to find this new resource and look forward to sharing it with others, starting with you! This week, you can enter to win a free copy of the Fresh Start Bible here on the blog. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Like this post and add a comment, explaining why you would enjoy this Bible or why you’d like to give it as a gift.
  2. Share any of my related posts on Facebook or Twitter and tag me in them. (You must tag me so I’m aware that you shared the post and can add you to the drawing.)
  3. Do more than one to be entered multiple times!

“No matter who you are or what you have done, Jesus wants to give you a fresh start.” Learn how you could win a copy of the Fresh Start Bible at KristenHogrefe.com.

As we close out this year and anticipate the next, may we cherish God’s Word, prayerfully study it, and seek to know our Maker and Savior more.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to the Blog About Network for hosting this giveaway.

Author Chat with Ruth Buchanan on Unseasonable, Her Comedic Christmas Novella

I’m excited to welcome author Ruth Buchanan to the blog! Her latest release, her Christmas novella Unseasonable, launched yesterday, and today, she shares with us about the story.

Florida hurricanes in winter are rare but do happen. Did any real-life hurricane experience influence this story?

Ruth: In a roundabout way, yes. In 2016, I was just putting the finishing touches on my novel Unbreakable when Hurricane Matthew blew over my home in South Florida. I hadn’t evacuated, and I hunkered down behind my aluminum shutters praying that the power wouldn’t go out (or the roof blow off). Under such circumstances, it was easy to imagine how my central characters would respond in similar circumstances. Particularly Ann Cooper, who has such a physically demanding outdoor job. 

The sisterly affection/antagonism between Rachel and Ann feels so natural. Did any of your real-life relationships help shape these character dynamics?

Ruth: Absolutely. I have two sisters, Lisa and Bethany. The sisterly dynamic Ann and Rachel maintain is based in part on my relationships with them. The three of us shared one bedroom when we were growing up, and we’ve shared apartments as adults, though not all at the same time. Even with grown siblings who get along well, it’s amazing how easily the pettiness of childhood creeps into our adult interactions.   

I also liked that Unseasonable shows Christmas isn’t confined to any seasonal expectations. Why is this message so relevant to our culture today? 

Ruth: “Christmas” as an American cultural celebration has really gotten away from its roots, with its explosion of materialistic tradition divorced from spiritual practice. At its core, the Christian observation of Advent calls for meditating specifically on the miracle of Christ’s physical incarnation, a truth with implications reaching far beyond seasons or even our earth itself, impacting the whole of cosmic creation. 

The authentic humor in Unseasonable is a trademark of your writing. What role do humor and authenticity play in crafting a story that will resonate with readers?

Ruth: Thank you for saying that! Humor and authenticity are absolutely central to how I seek to express myself as a writer. 

In fiction, we want to walk away with a sense that we’ve experienced something that really could have happened alongside characters who really could exist. It’s vital that my characters act like real people–sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes flat-out ridiculous. I love when readers tell me they laughed out loud during a story or that they would totally hang out with my characters. Or date them (ahem Moss). In my estimation, those are some of the highest compliments they could pay. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers about Unseasonable?

Ruth: I truly hope you enjoy it! My hope is that Florida residents will find their experiences mirrored in Unseasonable and that non-Florida residents will want to see what all the fuss is about.

Just don’t visit during hurricane season.


To learn more about Unseasonable, you can read my full review on Goodreads. I’m confident this short read will leave a smile on your face.

If you’re in the mood for a hilarious holiday read, check out Unseasonable by @RuthMBuchanan, available now on Amazon.


About Ruth:

Ruth Buchanan is a Christian freelance writer who holds degrees in ministry and theology. She writes fiction, non-fiction, plays, and sacred scripts. She’s an eager reader, an enthusiastic traveler, and the world’s most reluctant runner. Ruth loves Jesus, family, church, friends, and coffee. She lives and works in South Florida.

How to Avoid Writing Pitfalls

I’m excited to share this month’s creative writing topic on Writer’s Block, a creative writing club for young writers.

There, their, or they’re? Its or it’s? This month, we talk about common writing pitfalls and how to spot them. We also look at what makes a strong opener versus a weak opener for a story and also how to write strong dialogue. Don’t miss the hands-on writing activity at the end!

Join us on YouTube, and take a moment to comment or share your thoughts on today’s video.

Don’t let your writing get tangled. Learn to avoid common writing pitfalls this month on Writer’s Block.

Write on!

Kristen

Remember November’s Other Holiday

When you think of November and holidays, what’s the first one that comes to mind? Right, Thanksgiving. You might think of everything that comes with this celebration like family time, delicious food, funky traditions, parades, or football games. While there’s nothing wrong with these things, let’s not forget November’s other special day: Veterans Day.

Veterans Day serves to honor and appreciate all veterans. While Memorial Day honors the fallen, Veterans Day offers gratitude not only to those who are parted from us, but also to the men and women who gave so much and are still here for us to thank.

Are we too busy thinking of ourselves to say thank you?

If you’re like me, you probably get absorbed in the day-to-day. Our tasks and to-do-lists may be full of wonderful things for our family and friends, but we need to take time to pause and look outside our comfortable circles.

More than likely, we wait in line with veterans at the grocery store, pump gas next to them at the gas station, and jog by them in our neighborhoods. We probably don’t know who they are, and they certainly don’t go around wearing a stamp on their forehead that says, “Thank me, I’m a veteran.”

No, they go about their business, just like you and me.

But on Veterans Day, their patriotism and pride come out. Many dust off their uniforms and share with us who they are and how they have served.

Will we notice our veterans today?

Now is our chance, people. Now is our chance to notice them, to appreciate them, to thank them. If you see them at the grocery store, thank them. If you stand in line behind them at the coffee shop, buy their coffee. Be creative. If you personally know a veteran, take the time to call or text. A simple thank-you can go a long way.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he addressed the topic of authority and respect for government in the first part of chapter thirteen. His takeaway is for us to give each proper authority the dues and respect his position commands. Paul put this idea so eloquently:

Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:7 NKJV)

Give honor to whom honor is due, Paul said. Our veterans certainly deserve our honor and thanks.

Let’s be grateful people who count our veterans among our blessings this day and every day.

How will you thank a veteran today?

Kristen

My Gift to You This Thanksgiving Month

November is the month all about giving, and I’m starting it by giving away a Kindle copy of my award-winning novel, The Revisionary. This novel is the first in a futuristic dystopian trilogy where characters rediscover American heritage and find hope for tomorrow. You can learn more on my books page.

Today kicks off Celebrate Lit’s “Thankful for Our Readers” multi-author giveaway. When you enter, you have the chance to win, not just my book, but 40 other books by Christian writers, plus a grand prize of a $100 Amazon gift card.

Click here to enter the giveaway, which runs through November 10.

Wishing you the best November yet!

Kristen

My gift to you this Thanksgiving month is a Kindle copy of my award-winning dystopian novel The Revisionary. Details to enter this giveaway at KristenHogrefe.com.

Trust the Clouds Will Part

During our latest trip to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, my husband James, our friends, and I enjoyed several hikes. The first two days were clear and perfect. No matter where we went, we had good visibility and conditions (even though they were a bit chilly for this Florida girl).

The last two days were a complete reversal. We woke to cloudy, drizzly skies. The forecast kept changing, and we weren’t sure if the sun would come out or not. Regardless, we took two slippery waterfall hikes. (When in doubt, hike anyway.) The views were absolutely worth the effort!

By late afternoon, though, the clouds still hung heavy and low. We had one planned hike left, but Roan Mountain required the longest drive yet and had the highest elevation.

Since it was our last day, we took the chance. As we neared the parking area, we caught glimpses of blue sky through the clouds. For a few minutes, the misty clouds cleared, revealing breathtaking mountains and deep blue afternoon skies. Moments later, the clouds rolled back in, but we swung on our hiking backpacks and started the climb anyway, hopeful the clouds would continue to give way.

When we reached the first outlook, they did. Waiting there were several photographers, and one practically bounced out of his skin for joy. “I’ve been waiting here all afternoon,” he said. “It’s been nothing but clouds. But now, would you look at that view!”

We agreed. It was stunning and totally worth the risk.

When Clouds Don’t Part

Sometimes in life, we take a chance, and the clouds still stubbornly hug the sky. Okay, you know I’m not talking about weather anymore, right?

We put ourselves “out there,” only to be disappointed. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve submitted a book proposal or made a pitch, only to receive a rejection or silence that speaks louder than words. All the effort that went into crafting the proposal to specific submission requirements feels like a waste of time and energy.

Maybe you’ve trained months to make the team, only to miss the cut. Maybe you’ve studied hard for entrance exams or standardized testing, only to miss the mark by one point. Maybe you’ve carefully groomed yourself for a promotion or new position, only to have someone else pass you by.

Seriously, we’ve all been there and felt our hopes deflate like a hot air balloon. But does that mean we should stop pressing on, taking risks, and giving opportunity every chance we can?

Absolutely not.

What We Can’t See Behind the Clouds

Maybe the skies of your current situation seem extra gray, but just because we can’t see the sun shining doesn’t mean it isn’t. God’s Word makes clear He has a plan for His children, a plan designed to give us “hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

On that hike up Roan Mountain, we went through a thick forest, which felt spooky in the late afternoon. Only the faintest hints of light sprinkled through the woods, and I found myself walking extra fast to get through the forest.

Waiting for me on the other side was a clearing, and just beyond, a view that stole my breath. The clouds had parted again, revealing a spectacular mountain vista. Even more stunning was the sunset we savored on the return hike.

We would have missed the majesty of clouds parting for a sunset if we hadn’t taken the risk to hike the mountain. That said, my encouragement to you (and myself) today is simple:

Take the risk. Hike whatever mountain you’re facing. And trust that soon, the clouds will part.

No matter what, the adventure is worthwhile.

~ Kristen

The Challenge to Write Simply

Welcome back to Writer’s Block, a creative writing club designed for young writers. In this month’s meeting, we talk about how less can definitely be more with our writing, but writing simply is much harder than we might think!

In today’s video, we talk about ways to write tightly and clear. The writing activity is one you won’t want to miss.

Join us on YouTube, and take a moment to comment or share your thoughts on today’s class.

How can less be more with our writing? Join the conversation at Writer’s Block, a creative writing community on YouTube for teen writers. https://bit.ly/2oxdEBe

Write on!

~ Kristen