Archives For Francine Rivers

How would you like to read a great book, share your thoughts about it, and maybe win a prize? That’s what I’m inviting you to do for this month’s Christian Fiction Book Club. What’s the book? Whichever one you choose!

By letting each participant choose her own book, I’m hoping to entice more of you—new friends, old friends, former student/friends, homeschooling moms, moms with little kids, busy working moms, grandmothers, non-bloggers, and bloggers—to participate.

So I’m calling this month’s chapter of the club, the Christian Fiction February Free-for-all.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find a Christian fiction book that you can read by the end of the month. It might be the book you have right there on the top of your To-Be-Read pile. If you have nothing in mind, I’ve listed some wonderful suggestions in this post.
  • Read your book in time to post here between February 25th and 28th.
  • Jot down your thoughts about the book. Sometimes it helps to answer a few specific questions about the story. If your book doesn’t come with discussion questions, I’ll be posting a few on a special page in my header soon.
  • Then you can choose how you’d like to share with the rest of us: 1. You can stop back in on book club day and post a mini-review of your book in the comments section. Or . . .
  • 2. You can email me your thoughts about the book, and I’ll include them in my post on book club day. I’d love to put your first name, the state you’re from, and maybe a picture of you with your comments. My email is reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com. Emails should be sent by February 23rd.
  • 3. If you’re a blogger, you can blog about your book. Then link up here on book club day.

Do you feel like you’re back in English class? Are you thinking, “Why should I take the time to do this?” I have an answer for that question . . .

  • When a new friend tells me what she likes about a favorite character, I catch a glimpse of what she values in others.
  • Often when a booklover explains why she relates to a particular theme or situation in a story, she ends up relating a real-life experience that helps me know her better.
  • When I find out someone I just met loves the same characters and books that have meant much to me, I know I’ve found a kindred spirit.

As C. S. Lewis said, “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.” So talking about the books that bring us closer to the Lord can bring us closer to each other.

Don’t know where to start? I have favorite books for every mood and season of life I’ve experienced! Here are some suggestions from among my many favorites. Most of these books have been out for a few years, so you may be able to find them through your local library. Did you miss any of these treasures the first time around? Or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve read one of these. They’re all worth a second look! Continue Reading…

Boaz notices Ruth gleaning in the fields

Married or single, content, hurting, or hoping, we all love a story with a touch of romance.

As a young Christian, I used to feel guilty about this. I assumed my penchant for romantic tales meant I had the wrong focus or wasn’t allowing God to meet my needs.

I decided to root out the origin of this frivolous bent and discovered something startling. I wasn’t suffering from an overly developed Cinderella complex. I truly was destined to be a bride!

Consider this verse from Isaiah, “As a young man marries a maiden, so your sons marry you. As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”

I write this even though one thing I’ve never been is a bride. At my age, I don’t expect to claim that title here on earth. But I am engaged. The Lord is my betrothed. Oh, not in some weird, delusional way. It’s true for all Christians. Any born again believer is part of the bride of Christ.

God spoke the vow to us in His Word: “I [God] will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea)

And God created courtship and marriage as way of wearing His heart on His sleeve. Each time we read of a noble man wooing his pure-of-heart bride, we’re to be reminded of the One who pursues us.

I have heard people question the value of Christian novels and stories, belittling them as pure escapism. Well, I say, tell that to the Master Storyteller!

God recorded a wealth of dramas, adventures, and romances in the Bible. I love the stories of Ruth and Rahab and the good men who loved and claimed them.

Plus, not all the stories in the Bible actually occurred. Wouldn’t parables qualify as Christian fiction? Are these accounts only for the purpose of hermeneutical analysis? Are they not there to touch our hearts?

C. S. Lewis stated my point in a much more academic way, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”

Just so. Well-written Christian novels can water us when we’re thirsting for inspiration and hope.

Contrary to what some might think, I don’t read romances to forget the reality of my single life. (Always a bridesmaid, never a bride?) And romance in a novel doesn’t leave me bitter over the choices God has made for me.

When I read a romance, I imagine my future. The day when my Heavenly bridegroom will return and carry me to the home He prepared for me in His Father’s House.

Inspirational romance stories remind me what it feels like to be chosen. In spite of the fact that there are others who are beautiful, intelligent, talented, and sophisticated—God chose me!

As I celebrate someone else’s romance, I’m reminded of my relationship with the Lord. I, too, am claimed by my Bridegroom. I am taken into His confidence. I am protected and cared for. I am special because He loves me.

One of the first Christian novel series which spoke to me in a personal way was The Mark of the Lion Series by Francine Rivers. Hadassah, the main character she created, shines like a beacon of sweetness and purity in the dark world of sinful Rome.

Two aspects of Hadassah’s story touched me. First, she bears a disfiguring scar. Having suffered the ravages of teenage acne, I immediately related to her. And I love that she is no Cinderella, who instantly becomes beautiful when pulled from her corner by the handsome prince. The other characters learn to look past her outward appearance and cherish her inner person.

Second, though fictional, her character made me think of Heaven in a new way. I realized Heaven will be filled with women from all different cultures and time periods in history. Yet our God met their needs, fulfilled their dreams, comforted their sorrows—I guess we’ll have a lot in common!

Not all of the novels I’ve read by talented Christian authors have such deep messages. Sometimes their charming, quirky characters have simply made my heart smile, and there were days when I desperately needed that.

Julie Lessman, Christian author

I’m reminded of a comment by Julie Lessman, author of A Hope Undaunted, “The truth is we are all creatures who are starved for love, created by a God who is starved for ours.”

This is why so many Christian authors write romance into their stories and why so many of us respond to that winsome theme.

So I appreciate the folks who invest their time and talent creating new worlds and inhabiting them with such lovely and interesting creatures. They do it not to give us an escape from this world. But to help us remember all that we have in Christ now and all that will be ours in the world to come.

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”

As I’ve said before, comments to a blogger are like a warm fire on a cold day or a kind smile from a stranger or a pat on the back . . . I could go on and on if you won’t! But if you care to, share a favorite title and author in the comments section. And come back later in the week for a new book giveaway from another wonderful Christian writer!