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I have been an avid reader from as early as I can remember. Since becoming a Christian in my early 20s, my passion for reading led to specifically Christian fiction and this has developed into reviewing them on this blog. I love reading debut author's novels or those author's who have not had many reviews thus providing them much needed encouragement 

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Friday, 2 November 2018

Guest Post: Hide It In Your Heart Coloring Calendar 2019 by Annie Doulass Lima

When Annie approached me about being part of her blog tour to promote her new release, a coloring book for adults based on the Word of God, I was enthusiastic. These colouring books hold special interest and importance for me. My wife suffered a spontaneous, massive brain injury (haemorrhage) in 2004 and she nearly did not make it. The surgery was a life saver. By the grace of God, she sustained very little damage, just some hearing and memory loss. Since then, she has to engage in active and stimulating exercises to keep the brain active. Computer games, puzzles and these colouring books have had a huge impact on her ongoing rehab. I have seen her creativity in the completion of her colouring books and some of them are a joy to behold.

Seeing what these colouring books can do from a therapeutic point of view, I can see how these would be a lot of fun for the child that is still in us as adults. I applaud authors like Annie Douglass Lima, who have created these coloring books for us. In this new creation, she has taken these books to the next level. Not only can they be fun, promote our creativity, assist in brain injury rehab, but can also help stimulate a love affair with the Word of God. Just like children, we learn better when the delivery is fun and entertaining. So check out Annie's post below. You never know, it might just open another door for you!

Over to you, Annie: 



This 2019 calendar features a Bible verse for each week in creative fonts that can be colored in. A wide variety of holidays are listed, both traditional and unusual. (Do you know when Appreciate a Dragon Day is? How about Lost Sock Memorial Day?) You’ll have plenty of room to record your activities and appointments in the section for each day and week. After every month, you’ll find word puzzles featuring keywords from that month's scriptures and holidays.

Prepare for a year full of coloring and fun that will help you hide God's Word in your heart in 2019 without even trying!


Now take a look at some sample pages! (In the actual calendar, each page is 8 1/2" x 11".) 

Clicking on a picture will open up a PDF of the left-hand page (just the part with the Bible verse, not the calendar week) that you can print and color.

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.


Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.


Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.


Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.

Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.
Click here to print the coloring page for this verse.


Click here to order a copy of Hide it In Your Heart in 2019 for yourself or a friend now!

About Annie:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published thirteen books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, five anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Scripture coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with Annie Douglass Lima online:










Sign up for author updates and receive a free ebook of "interviews" with characters from her fantasy series: http://bit.ly/LimaUpdates









































Saturday, 27 October 2018

War Torn by Jeffrey Wilson

War Torn


Based on personal experiences by the Wall Street Journal and Amazon #1 bestselling military thriller author Jeffrey Wilson, War Torn is an inspirational novel that details a young man's crisis of faith after a tour of combat duty in Afghanistan turns tragic.

Jake is a solid American, a young husband, a good friend, and a patriotic member of the National Guard. While his family and Christian values define who he is, he has never fully understood the passion for the faith that his wife, Rachel, and his best friend and fellow soldier, Cal, seem to share. But when Jake and Cal are deployed with their unit to Afghanistan, Jake depends heavily on the quiet but powerful faith of his best friend and embraces, finally, a relationship with God. Despite the horrors he experiences in war and the pain of his separation from Rachel, Jake has found his way for the first time—until a crippling loss shakes his newfound faith to the core and makes him question where God is in his struggles, or if God even exists at all.

Can a loving wife’s faith carry a broken man through the most difficult challenge of his life? Can a committed pastor put his own struggles and doubts aside to help heal a wounded marriage? Like so many combat veterans, Jake must find his way back to his family even after returning from Afghanistan, and learn to find God in the fog of war that follows him home.

The Guru's Review: 


I volunteered to review this new novel by Jeffrey Wilson and I am very glad I did. It is a very impressive novel, compelling and engrossing. Wilson has brought to life convincingly the reality of war, combat and strategy, the relationships between the soldiers of the unit. Very real are the emotions they go through on the day to day on either a raid or a show of force patrol. But where Wilson shines is showing the raw emotions they experience when one is injured or more importantly when one of them is killed. 

I was distraught when Pete could not come to terms with the death of one of his comrades and the emotions he expressed, raw and intense. You find yourself relating to these emotions but also with empathy and compassion. Then you relate to the attempts of Jake as he tries valiantly, but honestly, in answering the questions that Pete has in relation to this death, why it happened, how do you process this, how do you move on, how do you deal with all these emotions and more. I appreciated the fact that Jake could not help Pete at all and this was just as raw for him as it was for Pete not being able to deal with the reality of war.

And it only gets worse when Cal is killed and Jake's world is turned upside down and he feels he has reached a point of no return. I was on the train when I read all of this novel and it was hard to maintain control when I just wanted to let my emotions go as these characters did. Very hard to not cry on public transport when these emotions have been triggered! 

Wilson is very successful in integrating his experience in the military and his tours of duty into this novel. It forms a solid foundation upon which this novel is constructed and adds to the credibility of the plot, characters and its themes. His bio states that he, 
has at one time worked as an actor, a firefighter, a paramedic, a jet pilot, a diving instructor, a Naval Officer, and a Vascular and Trauma Surgeon. He also served two tours in Iraq as a combat surgeon with both the Marines and with a Joint Special Operations Task Force.
Such a narrative is best when an author writes what they know compared to applying the research of an unknown topic or element into a novel. The latter is only successful in how it is applied to the plot, but this is not an issue when the author has first-hand experience. The genre of the military, special ops and the like shine when an author is writing from this personal knowledge base. Wilson is one of the masters here. I have no problem reading any of his other novels based on this fact alone. I know I am going to be in for a wild ride and be thoroughly entertained. 

Wilson has structured this novel on two levels. The home front where the wives, Kelly and Rachel, respectively, of the two main characters, Cal and Jake, cope with having their husbands on tour of duty and all that this entails. It is here that Wilson develops these two characters and endears the reader to them and their empathy for what they are going through is engaged. The second level, the war front, has the typical depiction of what this is like for these soldiers. Again, Wilson develops the characters, mainly Jake and Cal so that the reader is engaged and committed to them so that when both these two levels meet in the second half, this novel takes off. The former level sets the stage for what happens when Cal is killed and Jake returns home, broken, affected by PTSD and with no end in sight of the nightmare he has experienced. It is here that the fallout from the events of the other soldiers being killed, but especially that of Cal's death is explored in all its rawness, intensity, by Rachel, Kelly, Jake, their family members, Pastors Craig and Chris, TC Morrow, and Adrian.

Wilson shines in the spiritual aspects of this novel. He shows no hesitation or reticence in depicting Cal as living out his faith and it shows in all aspects of his life and relationships. This is one Christian who is not afraid of the gospel of Christ and in proclaiming it. But this is not done in some super-spiritual way where Christians and non-Christians have experienced these super-spiritual, overly zealous Christians where you cannot relate to them. Wilson has depicted Cal as one who knows what his relationship with Jesus is; relational, sincere, practical and where his hope lies. It is this tangible evidence in his life, that draws Jake to Cal and where he accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour. And one other aspect of this relationship Cal has with Jesus is he is not afraid to be real, to show emotion, doubt, but to submit to Jesus and let Him be in control and Sovereign.

Similarly, Wilson has depicted other Christian characters in a similar fashion. I loved Pastor Craig. I loved his vulnerability and admission that he did not have all the answers to help Jake, but it was his humility that grabbed me. He did not suffer from pride or an expectation that as a Pastor he had to know how to handle all situations, especially PTSD and what Jake was going through. This humility was also shown in his accepting counsel from his assistant Pastor, Chris. These two had a Paul and Barnabas relationship on one hand and a Paul and Timothy on the other. These two understood each other, accepted each other's flaw and strengths, were very comfortable with each other. 

I know Wilson has modelled Craig on his own Pastor as he states in the Acknowledgements. He seems to have quite a Shepherd in this Pastor and I can see from this depiction of Craig and also of Pastor Chris what a positive effect this has had on Wilson's life and spirituality and relationship with Christ. I have said in many reviews, that the Christian, Biblical and spiritual elements of a novel can also give a glimpse of the relationship the author has with Christ. I can see this through the characters of Pastor's Chris and Craig, Adrian, and Cal. I know what to expect if I ever met this author and others. This transparency is a wonderful characteristic and evidence of the Spirit's work in this author's life. 

Christian fiction is often criticised for being preachy in the gospel message, or for including the actual prayer from the Christian characters. Sometimes, I find this to be unfounded while at other times, it can stand out from the plot and appear as if it has been added for Christian content only or not an essential part of the plot. Not so with this novel. Wilson has avoided this by integrating the gospel message and the themes of forgiveness, redemption, submission, hope in Christ, the question of death, killing and grief as part of the plot structure and character development. It is more giving counsel than so-called "preaching" in dealing with the very real but raw emotions experienced by Jake over Cal's death, his guilt, anger, his PTSD, and the issues Rachel and Kelly had to deal with over their grief of Cal's death and Rachel's affected husband. This novel would fall flat and be very unsatisfying without the integration of these elements. Wilson has also been upfront with adding the biblical reference to these themes and accounts of counsel. Three specific accounts that impressed me greatly were the instruction and counsel from Cal to Jake about killing, Romans 8 between Kelly and Rachel but the one that really impacted me was the account when Craig was ministering to Jake about the Power of the Cross and what Jesus' death meant to us all in any situation we are in, in this case, PTSD, loss of a loved one/spouse/friend/soldier and discovering who you are in Christ. All three examples very powerful messages on their own but work seamlessly together. They definitely show the power of the Word of God. I found all these examples beautifully executed by Wilson. 

Wilson's method here just reinforces the tenet that we learn better when information in all its forms is delivered in an entertaining way. Fiction is well placed to do this and is very successful. Christian fiction fits in very well here. You do not feel as if you are being preached at when authors like Wilson integrate into the structure of the plot and its themes. It also adds depth and strength to the novel's structure. I state in the "Why Christian Fiction?" tab of this blog from reading Christian fiction I like to experience that, 
  • it has entertained me immensely, 
  • it has encouraged my walk with God, 
  • it has not deviated from known biblical doctrine, and it will not lead a non-believer astray or promote false doctrine, 
  • it honours God, 
  • it does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels) instead of the Creator (God). 
Wilson has definitely achieved this for me. Fiction can be a very powerful platform when an author writes for God under His guidance/anointing. 

Another aspect of the spiritual in this novel is a touch of the supernatural. Both Rachel and Jake have dreams where they are visited by a messenger called Luke. It is very identifiable that this messenger is an angel (Mal'ak (also spelt as Malak or Melek and is the Semitic word for "angel" Hebrew מַלְאָךְ and means messenger). He tells each of them what they need to do and a heads up on what to expect when Jake comes home. In Jake's case, he has an opposing voice to what Luke says and at first, I wondered if it was demonic, but as this was not as obvious as who Luke is, it seems to be the negative talk from his brokenness, anger, guilt, shame. However, when Jake is care-fronted by Adrian and Craig with the Word of God and their counsel based on this, it is easy to see this negative but destructive self-talk is destroyed (excuse the play on words here!). Even Rachel is ashamed or embarrassed to discuss her dream and counsel from Luke with Pastor Craig.

It does make me wonder why Christians are so reticent to accept the supernatural in our lives even when it becomes obvious! It should go hand in hand with our conversion and experience of Jesus. I would have liked to have seen more of this supernatural element in this novel but it served its purpose.

This novel highlighted the need for more support by the government in reality to support veterans. I honestly do not know if the situation here in Australia is the same or similar to what you see in America, but I am shocked at the lack of care and support on every level of society for veterans! There needs to be more resources created, distributed and any existing ones expanded and improved to meet the needs of the armed forces members once they return home. It should also be for life as their needs are not temporary in the majority of cases. 

Wilson has tied up all the loose ends well by the end of the novel and while it has a happy and satisfying ending, how it does end and what Jake, Rachel, Kelly, Craig and Chris achieve in their lives, physically, mentally and emotionally is not just for the novel's ending but is what can be achieved by faith, by mentoring, by coming alongside those who are broken, despairing and at the end of themselves, by allowing the Spirit of God to minister through any willing Christian and in the broken who has a heart and mind that is receptive to the Spirit's healing. 

This is one very impressive novel. It is action packed, it hooks you and does not let go. It will tug at your emotions, it uplifts you and shows the power of the Cross and Jesus' victory over sin and death and His restorative and redemptive power. 

I look forward to more from this author. Jeffrey Wilson is one author to follow are support. 

Highly Recommended.

The three ratings below are based on my discernment:

World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Story 5/5

The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland:

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 3/5

Overall Rating: 4.3/5

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Spiritually, based on my review and on the following reference booklet,

A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland, and that War Torn contains elements of the criteria of what constitutes Christian Redemptive Fiction outlined in this booklet, (click on the title below to see what this is based on), I award Jeffrey Wilson with the
Congratulations, Jeffrey!

To buy or preview this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon below:

Thursday, 11 October 2018

The Awakened (The Lazarus Chronicles, Book 1) by Richard Spillman

The Awakened 

Two thousand years ago Jesus resurrected his friend, Lazarus and founded a secret organization: SOAR. Since then Jesus has added to the resurrected—The Awakened—to aid Lazarus in SOAR's battle against Satan's slaves, the UnVeilers. The threat is escalating. The UnVeilers have stepped up their attacks on mankind through a charming leader and a devastating series of bombings in Dubai and Tel Aviv. But the invasion doesn't stop with international terrorism. The UnVeilers are searching for a secret that Jesus embedded in Lazarus’ journal that not even Lazarus knows—and it will determine the fate of mankind. After a failed cyber-attack against SOAR's computers, Lazarus and his team of experts must find the secret before the UnVeilers do. What clue is he overlooking that could turn the tide of this ageless conflict?

The souls fighting with Lazarus are weary, but the war against evil is far from won. Can Lazarus and his team set aside their longing for heaven and put a stop to these satanic attacks before it's too late?

The Guru's Review: 

"What if.......?" "Yeah, what if what?" you may ask! Well, the "What if......" question and its variations are what makes fiction speculative and it is one of the exciting genres to read but is also one of the most misunderstood and sometimes controversial. When this speculative element is applied to Christian fiction, it makes for a wonderful story that allows an author to use poetic licence to fill in the gaps that exist in the source of their story. This can be especially true when applied to the Bible with its tenets, doctrines or supernatural events.

After reading this novel by Richard Spillman, I can say that he has applied the speculative element to create a wonderful story that is intriguing, engrossing, keeps you guessing. For a debut novelist, you would never know it! The speculative element he has used for the foundation of this novel is very clever. Those familiar with the Biblical account of Lazarus know that he was resurrected by Jesus (John 11:1-55). Here is where Spillman's speculative application comes into play. In the book of Hebrews 9:27 we learn that,
And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment. 
Spillman has expounded on this verse by proposing that because he had died (once) as this verse states, he could not die again. This would make him immortal. And Spillman has Jesus telling him so, 
"....He told me that it is appointed to man to die once and since I had already died, he brought me back in a body that will never die again." 
Then Jesus tells Lazarus that there will be more like him and that He has ordained this for a specific purpose. They then called themselves the Awakened.

From this plot arc and foundation, Spillman creates a multilayered world. 

Lazarus creates an organisation called SOAR to fulfil Jesus' specific purpose. The Awakened are to serve humanity by helping them soar, or bringing out the best in them. The name is an acronym for the Society of the Awakened and Restored. Humans can become Awakened but only by another Awakened who would pray over them once dead if they believed or felt this was God's will. 

Their other purpose is a supernatural one and that is to eliminate or "dust" the Undead, the UD, whose goal is to continue the work commenced by Satan in fostering rebellion against God and to take as many Naturals (humans who have not died) to hell as they can. These UDs are those humans who, upon death, are reanimated and demon possessed by other UD. These are Satan's army/slaves. "Dust"ing them means that they are turned to dust when an Awakened touches them and they are then returned to Hell. The Awakened call these the UnDead but they call themselves UnVeilers, UV, as they view their job as unveiling the evil within mankind. 

Herein lies another layer. The UD are involved in international terrorism in order to cause worldwide panic, chaos and then dominate the human population, the Naturals. They have leaders, other UD/UVs who are in charge of these activities and who are awaiting the arrival of The UD, their ultimate leader who can only be dusted by Jesus. Here, Spillman creates a military-style special ops and technological expertise arm of SOAR, that has Awakened operatives worldwide. SOAR also have a role with the NSA and all other government organisations worldwide. And it is here that we meet all of the other Awakened characters. All understand their Awakened status and role, all have a love for Jesus and support each other. They could be considered the ultimate special ops team on the physical, technological and supernatural levels. 

One plot arc that I feel will appeal to most readers is Lazarus' journal. This acts to support, and develop the experiences of Lazarus since his Awakening (resurrection by Jesus) and show some of the battle histories between the UD and Awakened. It also reveals in a touching and empathetic way, the relationship he had with Jesus and his longing to be reunited with Him. I found Spillman's writing here captured Lazarus' feelings and what he went through to be very convincing. It reads as if it actually happened. It also endears the reader to Lazarus. We see him not only as the leader of SOAR, military and special ops commander but as a vulnerable but strong spiritual leader who has flaws. I was especially taken with Spillman's depiction of how Lazarus experienced Jesus. That really did tug at my heartstrings and desire to know Him better! I teared up on a few occasions when Lazarus described this to Ricki. Spillman has depicted Jesus very respectfully and as for who He is. This read in my mind as if it was a movie segment, so real and poignant it was. 

This shows some of Spillman's own relationship with God. I know that in crafting a novel, an author will inject some of themselves into the characters and other parts of the novel's construction and this definitely shows here in relation to Lazarus as well as in other parts of the novel. This definitely adds strength to the novel's overall impact on the reader. Novels can either be character driven or plot driven predominantly. To me, there is a healthy mixture of both in this novel. That just makes it all the more enjoyable. 

Another layer of Spillman's worldbuilding is a mystery, a secret. Embedded in this journal is a secret that Jesus had included. Both Lazarus and the UD seek to reveal this secret. In this novel, the first part of the secret is revealed and it lays the foundation for the remainder to be revealed in subsequent novels. It is in this plot arc that we are introduced to Ricki Spenser who becomes an integral part of SOAR and in Lazarus seeking to find the journal secret. Here Spillman introduces a touch of romance between these two that I presume will be further developed in the remaining two novels. 

It is through this plot arc relating to these two that Spillman introduces his spiritual theme of forgiveness, of ourselves for our sin but also from what others have done to us. This is explored and depicted well between Ricki and Lazarus and I found this to be tender and relational. In doing so, Ricki also finds peace, closure, her need for God and to become free from the abuse of her upbringing. I could so relate to this on a personal level as I see this in myself and in others on a day to day basis. I love Spillman's snippets of what forgiveness means as seen between Lazarus encouraging Ricki 
"Love abounds where forgiveness is practiced.  
It doesn't take strength (to forgive), it takes love. Love for yourself more than anything.Unforgiveness allows the sin of others to change us. We become defined by their transgressions. It leaves us stuck in a perpetual cycle of pain.
The enemy uses our unforgiveness to create confusion, hate, bitterness and defeat.  
We may rage against evil forged in the fire of injustice, but in the process, we are consumed by it as well.  
Either we begin to believe we're unworthy and deserve the pain, or we become embittered and closed off by the injustice.  
Sin wounds and heals. Forgiveness heals and restores. We are freed from our hurt." 
Another layer to Spillman's worldbuilding is a very clever feature called AIM, Awakened Incident Manual. Snippets of this manual head each chapter. These snippets add further information to the nature of the Awakened, the UD, the battle between them, how the Awakened are to act and other relevant info. This is effective as it does not interrupt the main plot arcs and pace, as they would if included therein, making these two elements disjointed and fragmented. Seeing this has become part of the structure of this novel, I pray Spillman continues this in the series. I have come to enjoy this feature. 

In many novels, names are either created to sound good, fit the character, place or event but have no meaning to these elements. Not so in this novel. Spillman has used names that are appropriate to the role of the character. What this does is add depth and purpose to these characters and strengthens the plot. An example here is the mysterious character, Renaud Christian Yount, 
Renaud was his current name, but his birth name was Melech Sroel Abraham...... he selected names that meant something special. His birth name, Melech, meant "king." His current name meant "counsel"....... Merikh means "death"
My only concern is in regard to a character, Damijana. She is extracted physically from the terrorist organisation she belongs to by Ariella (Awakened operative) and the reasons were given for this extraction but Spillman has not taken this to its implied conclusion. What becomes of her once she is now in the Awakened camp? The role of SOAR is to bring out the best in humanity, and this was their aim in extracting or kidnapping her from the terrorist group, but this subplot relating to this character is left unfinished. I can only hope that this is addressed in the next novel. I just feel that this derailed the plot somewhat.

I also recommend downloading the short story on Spillman's website called, "Dusted" that gives a more detailed account of how the Awakened eliminate the UnDead.

The Discussion Questions at the end of the novel are worth investigating and reflecting upon if only for your own sake.

The Sneak Peak at Ascension, Book Two whets the appetite for this series continuation. We will have to wait until August 2019 for this one. 

All in all, I am very impressed with this novel. Spillman has crafted a strong base with excellent worldbuilding, characters who are relational and endearing, intriguing speculative elements and one spiritually uplifting and entertaining ride. 

Highly Recommended.

The three ratings below are based on my discernment: 


World Building 5/5

Characters 5/5

Story 5/5

The two classifications below are based on the booklet, A Spiritual System for Rating Books by David Bergsland: 

Spiritual Level 4/5

Enemy Spiritual Level 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

To buy or preview this novel, click on the BUY/PREVIEW icon below: 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Guest Blogger: David Bergsland: Yes, Powerful Christian Writing Requires Anointing.

When I started reading Christian fiction in 1995, I just wanted to be entertained. This was a carryover from reading secular fiction to which I had become very disillusioned. Even my favourite author, Clive Cussler was not cutting it with me any more. 

One of the first Christian fiction novels and the first edgy, speculative Christian fiction novels I read was Dwellers by Roger Elwood. I was taken by the question posed by the author concerning the possibility of redemption for the Nephilim described in Gen 6:1-4. Not only was I entertained but my faith was strengthened, I was spiritually uplifted and an interest in apologetics was born. I was impressed by Elwood's use of biblical theology and doctrine to answer this question concerning the Nephilim.

What Elwood achieved in this novel showed me that God uses the Christian author's talent, creativity and imagination to not just entertain, but educate, uplift and show how biblical theology, doctrine and principles can be applied to answer issues of this fallen world and much more. I have read more than enough Christian fiction across its diverse genres to see how God has used Christian authors to show: 

  • who He is, 
  • the many aspects of His character, 
  • His plan of salvation and redemption for mankind, 
  • angelology and demonology, 
  • relying on God through difficult and trying circumstances, 
  • how to develop faith and trust in God, 
  • encouraging others, 
  • spiritual warfare, 
  • being true to yourself, 
  • standing up for what is right, 
  • Godly romance, 
  • sex and sexuality.
  • controversial issues

The power of story. Jesus used story-telling in the form of parables to show us how to live as He originally planned for us.

From my diverse reading, I have experienced the following benefits from Christian fiction and its authors and it is what I pray I continue to experience: 
  • it has entertained me immensely, 
  • it has encouraged my walk with God, 
  • it has not deviated from biblical doctrine, and it will not, I discern, lead a non-believer astray or promote false doctrine, 
  • it honours God, 
  • it has educated me on a particular issue and has challenged my thinking on it and encourages me to seek God further regarding this issue
  • it does not encourage worship of the created (eg angels) instead of the Creator (God).

However, for an author achieve the above, it appears to me that the Christian author would need to be writing for God, under His guidance, and be a willing conduit for Him to deliver His message in their writing. 

My experience is also shared by author David Bergsland. He discusses this further in the following blog post. I post it here as encouragement to other authors and to readers. It is posted here with David's permission. It post can also be found on his website, Reality Calling.



Thanks for continuing to help us spread the word about all the incredible Christian authors of the 21st century. These are holy warriors in the final harvest. Click here to enlist: YeeHaw!
The not-often discussed truth that powerful Christian writing requires anointing reveals your path as a writer for the Lord. Jesus was not kidding when He said, “…without Me you can do nothing.” I don’t care how facile you are with words and turns of phrase. Your wit will not change lives. At best, it will convince readers that you are wonderful. At worst, it will distract readers from repentance.

First, how do we recognize powerful Christian writing — non-fiction or fiction?

Easily. Excellent and powerful Christian writing transforms lives, brings repentance, offers comfort, edifies the reader, and/or offers the Baptism of the Spirit to broken and needy people. Backsliders reexamine themselves. The heathen is convicted of sin. Readers’ hearts are opened to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
The difficulty, of course, comes with finding testimonies. They come from reviewers, commenters, and readers. However, simply asking the Holy Spirit to show you solves that problem quickly. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the core of the whole process.

So, how do you get the Holy Spirit to produce powerful Christian writing through you?

“You ask for it. You ask sincerely, humbly, and fervently before you write—every time you write—that the Holy Spirit will take your thoughts and words and make them into rhema for your readers. You pray that your flesh and old self will be kept out of the way and that you can be a channel for the Holy Spirit now. You pray you can be given the ability to convey truth which will not mislead. When you have prayed for wisdom and anointing, then you can write freely, trusting He will do what He promised. Without this power applied to your writing, it is just a career choice. If writing is your calling and your ministry, it will be worthless without the power of the Holy Spirit transforming your work. This anointing is essential.” Bergsland, Writing In Holiness: While Keeping It Real (pp. 13-14). Radiqx Press. Kindle Edition.

The Holy Spirit anoints if you ask — BUT…

You must allow it. This is not automatic writing where a spirit takes over and controls your flesh. You ask Him to use you, listen carefully, and write with an attitude of awe and wonder. Even then, you may not recognize the anointing upon your writing. It’s not for you, but others. Sometimes I am aware I wrote something beyond my ability. But, often I have no idea until I hear testimonies.
I’m grateful for that. I don’t need the swollen head, for I did little except to try to allow the Spirit to convert my writing to rhema. He gets the glory for the power comes from him. But, there’s a lot more to it than you being anointed.

It’s not about you

Who do you work for? Who called you to be a writer? For some of you, the answers are: you work for yourself and your decision to be a writer was a personal one. If so, I’m not talking about you or to you. I’ve written extensively about the various spiritual levels of Christian fiction in my foundational book, A Spiritual System for Rating Books
As I wrote there, transformational power is generally not available in any book offering less than Redemptive or Spirit-filled stories. But for this article specifically and this Website generally, I am speaking to authors who believe God has called them to write.
…my vision is to help you understand that your call to write is very important. It is part of the effort He is putting out to save everyone possible before it is too late. My vision is to encourage you in that, and to provide you with the knowledge necessary to communicate clearly with your writing. Typography, page layout and book design are the tools of your trade just as much as excellent dialog, compelling characters, immersive worlds, and carefully crafted stories.
I am not called to talk you into feeling guilty if your books are not forceful sermons—dragging your readers kicking and screaming from Hell into Heaven. Preaching doesn’t work in books. Manipulation by guilt is fleshly at best and often sin. Quoting scripture is only appropriate in scenarios where you would naturally do so in real life with your friends and acquaintances. Just like friendship evangelism, you learn what your reader needs and fulfill it. You listen to them, come to understand them, answer their questions, and gently lead them to the Truth. Only the Holy Spirit can enable them to act upon that Truth. All you can do is provide access to it. We are teacher/storytellers not master/slave drivers. We lead by example and the clear statement of reality toward Truth and the acceptance of that reality. Bergsland, David. Writing In Holiness: While Keeping It Real (pp. 14-15). Radiqx Press. Kindle Edition.
Powerful Christian writing has a definite place helping prepare for the soon-coming return of our King and Messiah—commonly known as Jesus of Nazareth, in English. God has strongly called several, even many, authors to bring the Gospel to hard-to-reach readers of speculative fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, and action-adventure.
In this reality, our question becomes simple: what do you want me to do, Lord? If we are called by Him to write, we must follow His lead in accomplishing this. It’s not about you, but about the Lord—and those sheep to whom He wants you to speak. You get to experience His power to make your book better, more realistic, and powerful. It’s a real rush.
But never forget: you work for Jesus to serve His people, those readers He has given you to be shown the Truth of the Gospel in your books.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Blog Tour: Richard Spillman: The Background Story to The Awakened (The Lazarus Chronicles Book 1)

Today I am hosting Richard Spillman as part of his blog tour to promote his debut novel, The Awakened, to be released on October 1st. If you like books in the genres of Christian inspirational, speculative, fantasy, supernatural, action and adventure, you’ll love this thriller and suspense novel. The miracle surrounding the biblical figure of Larazus has fascinated me since childhood so I was very much interested in reviewing this novel when Richard asked me to do so. 

So sit back and explore The Awakened by Richard Spillman.


Click here to pre-order your copy of The Awakened.

Before we start, here is a little about the author: 


Richard Spillman is a retired Computer Scientist who typically writes Christian non-fiction (Do What Jesus Did) is available on Amazon as well as a Christian blog (spillmanrichard.com). His latest passion, however, is Christian fiction. His first novel, The Awakened, will be released on October 1. The story asks the question: “What if Lazarus didn’t die a second time?” He was led to write it after avoiding being kidnapped by ISIS in the Philippines and then receiving death threats (to behead him in standard ISIS fashion) during the rest of his missionary service there. Besides the blog, he is active on Twitter and Instagram where you can see pictures from his missionary travels around the world.

Now before Richard explains this novel's origin, here is what The Awakened is about:

Everyone dies once. But what if a chosen few were raised from the dead?

Two thousand years ago Jesus resurrected his friend, Lazarus, who founded a secret organization: SOAR. Since then Jesus has added to the resurrected—The Awakened—to aid Lazarus in SOAR's battle against Satan's slaves, the UnVeilers. The threat is escalating. The UnVeilers have stepped up their attacks on mankind through a charming leader and a devastating series of bombings in Dubai and Tel Aviv.

But the invasion doesn't stop with international terrorism. The UnVeilers are searching for a secret that Jesus embedded in Lazarus’ journal that not even Lazarus knows—and it will determine the fate of mankind. After a failed cyber-attack against SOAR's computers, Lazarus and his team of experts must find the secret before the UnVeilers do. What clue is he overlooking that could turn the tide of this ageless conflict?

The souls fighting with Lazarus are weary, but the war against evil is far from won. Can Lazarus and his team set aside their longing for heaven and put a stop to these satanic attacks before it's too late?

Richard gives the following account of how The Awakened came about: 

Novels begin as an idea in the authors mind. An idea that won’t go away. An idea that pops up at the most awkward times. An idea as relentless as it is captivating. If it is truly The Idea for your next novel, eventually you will sit down and start writing. The question is where does that idea come from? What happened that made it suddenly appear and become so persistent?

Though many writers would hope there is a general answer to that question waiting to be discovered, I fear that it doesn’t exist. Of course, we must acknowledge that Jesus is the ultimate source of these creative ideas, but all that answer does is tweak the question to: What did Jesus use to birth it in your mind? And…we’re back to square one.

While the answer may elude us in the beginning, as the writing comes to an end, most authors have some concept of the force behind The Idea. But, in the case of my new book, The Awakened, I didn’t have to wait until I finished it to know where The Idea came from. I knew from the very beginning that The Idea grew out of an obscene threat to my life and that of my friends.

I was scheduled to lead a team of five to the Philippines to minister at remote villages in the jungles of Mindanao. It was something I’d done once a year for almost ten years. In all that time we never encountered any serious problems but this time was different. Just before we were scheduled to fly out, Pastor Ronald, our point man in the area, texted me to say that the pastor, Pastor Danial, in one of the villages we were planning to visit had been kidnapped by ISIS but had escaped and he and his family were safe. Pastor Ronald was hiding them in his church in the Davao slums.

My first thought after a “thank you, Lord,” was if ISIS had waited a few days my whole team would have been at that church. We all would have been kidnapped. I had a big “thank you, Lord,” at that realization. We had dodged a serious bullet. 

Later that day I met with my team in the USA to fill them in on the latest twist. I told them that Bonnie and I were going but if any of them felt uncomfortable then they could stay home. As I suspected every one still wanted to go. And go we did knowing we were covered in prayer.

When we arrived the situation got even more serious. Ronald reported that ISIS had Pastor Danial’s cell phone containing contact information for all of us and notes about our visit. ISIS knew when and where to find us. Not only that he warned us that the ISIS commander had called him several times demanding Pastor Danial be returned or he would hunt us down and, in typical ISIS fashion, behead us all.

Once again, in light of this new threat, we had a decision to make: stay or leave. We all decided to stay but to be cautious. So we change our schedule and the places we were to visit. During the week we continued to get threatening phone calls and text messages but we ignored them and went on with our work. There was a certain amount of tension every time we went to a new church or visited a new family. The question on everyone’s mind, but never voiced was “would this be the village, the church, the family where ISIS would finally find us?” But, we usually settled down and were able to do what God asked of us without fear. The week ended and my team flew home with nothing more than a strange story to tell. 

When I got home, I started to think about the evil we had encountered. The ISIS commander knew nothing about me and my team yet he spent the week plotting our death. I take that back, he knew one thing about us – we were Christian and that was enough to fuel his murderous rage. And what had we done to set this off? We distributed Bibles, brought food and, sometimes medical supplies to remote villages. We preached the Gospel. We never hurt anyone. Yet someone wanted to kill us for doing precisely those things. It was pure evil that had repeatedly called us during that week.

In order to come to terms with this, I felt like I had to write about it but not the event itself because something in what I encountered transcended my discomfort during the trip. I had to come to an understanding of the broader concept. I had to write about the global clash between good and evil. I had to understand what could lead to such evil and how to best respond to it. After some thought, the plot for The Awakened began to take shape. Ideas flooded my mind. I eventually came up with The Idea: what if Lazarus never died a second time and today he was battling the kind of evil that had crossed my path. I took that idea and ran with it. 

In the process of writing The Awakened, I saw two major forces at work: (1) demonic forces influencing man to hate through lies and (2) God’s people working to counter those lies with truth. As I started to write I began to see God’s forces not hating the men who fell under the influence of demons but loving them and attacking the underlying lies. In the process, my feelings about the ISIS commander changed. I expressed them in the words of one of my major characters as she looked at a captured terrorist. “Shiri had seen men like him before, men full of hate, men who had long ago lost any sense of the value of life, men caught up in a continuous cycle of revenge. What she didn’t see was her enemy. 

He’s not my enemy, but he might know where my enemy is. 

The ISIS commander was never my enemy and by ignoring him and going on to minister in the villages I was attacking my real enemy. 

An excerpt that conveys the theme of the novel: 

“Ah…yes. And to be clear.” Matthew stood and started to count down on the fingers of his left hand. “You want me to solve a murder, stop a terrorist leader, and recover what would be the greatest archaeological find in history before a secret that could change the course of the end times gets out. And start all that today.”

“Our job is not to rid the world of evil; it’s to fill the world with good.”

Richard can be found at the following social media platforms: 


To preorder The Awakened, click on the icon link below: 


Readers and reviews are an author's best asset, so I encourage any reader who reads in the genres of Christian inspirational, fantasy, speculative, supernatural, action and adventure, thrillers and suspense to consider reading The Awakened and submit a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest (or any other social media you subscribe to).