Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7 Ways to Grow Biblical Literacy

Biblical literacy is the first step to developing discernment. Since discernment separates good from evil, we must understand what qualifies as good and what qualifies as evil. We gain this understanding through biblical literacy.

So how do we gain biblical literacy?

First, by taking responsibility. It is easy to think a church is responsible for your spiritual growth, and it is even easier to blame the church when you fail to grow. But you cannot rely on others. You must take personal responsibility for your study of the Scriptures.

Second, by making a commitment. Gaining biblical literacy is hard. It takes work. It takes time. It takes patience. So unless you decide that you want to grow and that you want to start growing now, you will never get around to developing your biblical literacy. You will always have something else to do, something more “urgent” to attend to, something more fun or pleasing to distract you from learning of biblical literacy.
 
Third, by reading the Bible yourself. Sermons, devotionals, and the studies are all helpful tools. They teach you ways to feed yourself and fix spiritual food you aren’t yet ready to prepare yourself. Yet in each of these cases, you are ultimately relying on someone else to feed you. If you are relying on these outside sources for all or even most of your spiritual nourishment, then someone else is telling you what the Bible says and defining what is good. This isn’t biblical literacy nor does it lead to discernment. You must learn to feed yourself from Scriptures. Otherwise you are no different than an infant who depends on others for his care, or a person who eats out all the time, which can take a high toll on both health and finances.
 
Fourth, by reading the Bible daily. I don’t care whether you read only a few verses or several chapters. I don’t care if your plan is structured or flexible. The amount and method aren’t as important as the consistency. After all, you eat physical food every day. Shouldn’t you do the same spiritually?

Fifth, by taking notes. Thanks to the hard work and courage of many men and women, we can enjoy the Bible in our native tongue. Our familiarity with the language, however, makes it easy to skim the biblical text; we “read” the words without really seeing them. So when you read, keep a notebook or computer handy. Jot down notes. Ask questions. Summarize. Note observations. This will help you stay engaged with what you are reading.
 
Sixth, by chewing on it. You probably eat more than once a day. Your body takes several hours to process the food eaten. What is true physically is true spiritually. A fifteen-minute snack once a day doesn’t provide much nourishment. So find a way to “eat” throughout your day. This can be done in many ways. Break up your study into several mini-sessions. Or try leaving your Bible open in a common area to be referenced several times during the day. Memorization is another popular technique. If you are on the move a lot, carry an index card with key thoughts as a reminder. The key is to find a method that works for you and then do it.
 
Seventh, by remembering you don’t have to start with a gourmet meal! Often we fail to even try because o f discouragement. We look at a pastor or favorite Bible teacher and say, “I can’t get what they get out of the Bible.” Of course you can’t—at least not when you’re first starting out! These men and women have invested years of hours to arrive at where they are today, just like a master chef has spent years training himself to cook. You can’t expect yourself to be able to fix a gourmet meal from the Bible even after a few months of study. Rather, grant yourself the permission to start with a spiritual PB&J. It might not be fancy, but it’s still nourishing!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Biblical Literacy: Identifying the Good

As Christians, we are commanded to grow up in our faith and to become mature spiritually. Growth comes from pushing our boundaries. However, boundaries can be stretched in a right way or in a wrong way, and the way we stretch them will affect how we grow. It is important, therefore, to stretch our boundaries in a way that enables healthy growth. To push boundaries properly we must first perceive them correctly—that is, perceive them with discernment.

Discernment is basically the ability to separate good from evil. In order to do that, we must understand what qualifies as good and what qualifies as evil. And we can understand these qualifications only if we know the unchanging standard separating the two.

But we cannot rely on ourselves to determine that standard or what those qualifications are. While God has provided us all a general moral compass (which is why most of us agree murder is wrong), that compass has been corrupted by sin and therefore is unreliable. We cannot trust human law or our own instincts to determine what is good and what is not. Our only reliable source is the Bible, for the Bible comes from God, who alone is perfect; He alone is qualified to determine what is good.

This is why we need biblical literacy.

Biblical literacy is knowing the Bible and the truth it teaches. When you are biblically literate, you are acquainted with most of the stories in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. You have studied the doctrines the Bible teaches. You have a growing knowledge of Who God is. You have learned to feed yourself from the Scriptures rather than relying on others for spiritual nourishment.

And the more we study Scripture, the better we will be able to recognize good and evil. It is like those taught to identify counterfeit money: When we have trained ourselves to distinguish what is true, good, genuine, and right—a standard which never changes—then we will also be able to spot the evil, no matter what guise it takes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

New July 2017 Christian Fiction Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Contemporary Romance:
 
 
On Love's Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson -- When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane--the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness--and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus -- Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she'll have to share ownership of the home she's inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly's too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew's in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal...or stay and chase Carly's heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette -- Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)

Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh -- When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)


Cozy Mystery:
 
 
A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig -- Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard -- FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha's Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn't take a vacation, and she's soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications--and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:
 

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt -- Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart -- Promises can be impossible to keep--especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten -- Wanting a godly husband, Melissa's only choice is to follow her father's wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels -- Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed -- Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she's found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid's past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:
 
 
Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble -- As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Speculative:
 
 
The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald -- Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Balancing Boundaries: Discernment

Many people see boundaries one of two ways: as either an arbitrary guideline which can be dispensed with at will or a as an inviolable box which can never change or flex. Yet both views mix truth and fallacy together in dangerous ways—ways which will lead us to push our boundaries incorrectly and cripple our growth as humans and Christians.

What are we to do? God desires us to grow, but growth cannot occur without stretching our boundaries. How then should we view boundaries, so that we might push them rightly and grow correctly?

This is where discernment comes in.

Yet even here a cloud of confusion impedes our progress. Discernment means many things to many people. To some, it is a spiritual gift provided by the Holy Spirit to the select few. Others see discernment as a natural intuition that develops as we age. Many think it’s merely a supernatural prompting, that tap on the shoulder by the Holy Spirit.

Each of these views is true to a point. Yes, there is a spiritual gift of discernment, called the discernment of spirits, but this is a supernatural and specialized application of discernment. And yes, your discernment should develop as you mature. However, just as growing older doesn’t make you wiser, neither does it make you more discerning. Finally, the Holy Spirit does promise to guide us—absolutely! But most of the time, He expects that guidance to rest on what He has already given—the Bible, a brain, wise counselors—using the supernatural only when natural means will fail.

So each of these is a form of discernment, but on their own, they don’t aid much in growth. Rather, the discernment I have in mind is the one described in Hebrews 5:14: “Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to separate good and evil.” The word translated here “separated” is the idea of distinguishing between things or discerning.

This means that good and evil do exist (which is why boundaries aren’t arbitrary) and that good and evil are frequently mixed to together (which is why inviolable boxes don’t work). Discernment acknowledges both of these truths and seeks to separate the good from evil.

Hebrews 5:14 also reveals that discernment is for everybody, not just a few specially-gifted people. After all, God desires us all to become spiritual mature. Since a mark of maturity is discernment, it then follows that God desires us all to become discerning too.

Moreover, discernment is personal. The mature have trained themselves. You don’t inherit discernment from your parents. You don’t absorb it by osmosis from a pastor or teacher. Rubbing shoulders with brilliant theologians won’t pass it on to you either. Rather, discernment is something you must seek for yourself. Because ultimately discernment is not primarily instinctual but acquired. The mature train themselves. They learned it through constant use.

So first and foremost discernment—this ability to separate good and evil—is a spiritual discipline which we gain over time through practice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Christian & the Secular

Boundaries were never intended to become inescapable prison cells, where the external actions are more important than the heart and where God is patterned after our image. Yet that is exactly what happens when we treat boundaries as inviolable boxes. God must be comprehensible. Life must be reduced to the lowest common denominator. The world must be classified as either/or with no room for “both,” “and,” or “neither.” Everything must be Christian and therefore safe for consumption—or not.

Such a view of our world, however, denies both the doctrine of human fallibility and the gift of God’s common grace.

Author J. Mark Bertrand puts it this way:

“You cannot draw a line between the Christian and the non-Christian, between the evangelical and the non-evangelical, between us and them, and declare everything on one side safe and everything on the other suspect…For one thing, every person and thing is tainted by the fall which means there are no pure influences under the sun. For another, God’s grace and truth are active throughout creation, which means that not only do we get lies from truth tellers, but we also get the truth from liars.”
(Re)thinking Worldview, Chapter 7, “A City Without Walls: Five Lessons for Siege Warfare”

What Mr. Bertrand is saying is that Christians can and do make mistakes. Often such mistakes are unintentional, but it doesn’t change the reality that we too are “sinners saved by grace.” Moreover, we all start our journey in following Christ as infants, who must grow up into mature believers. And just like physical babies, children, adolescents, and even adults, we will err and even outright disobey some aspect of Christ’s teaching along the way as we learn to live according to our faith. Yes, those mistakes should become rarer as we grow. Yes, those things labeled “Christian” have increased odds of conforming to the standard of Scripture. But this doesn’t mean wrong teachings and interpretations never happen.

So when we automatically assume something “Christian” must be true, we lower the defenses around our minds and hearts. This, in turn, allows error to creep in unchallenged and undetected, which can then infect other areas of our lives. Even worse, we become easy prey for false teachers, who excel at getting themselves braded as “Christian.”

Now just as we can “get lies from truth tellers,” it is also possible to “get the truth from liars.” Or as apologist Gregory Koukl notes in his book Tactics, “a nonbeliever’s conclusions should not be dismissed because he is not among the ‘faithful.’” (Chapter 12, “Rhodes Scholar”)

Yes, just as the Christian has increased odds of conforming to biblical truth, the secular is less likely because the god of this world has blinded their eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4). Yet God frequently uses those not of His people (think Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus in the Old Testament), sends the rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45), and has displayed His power in creation so even a non-Christian can’t miss it (Romans 1:20). Moreover, the non-Christian has to live in the world God created and abide by its rules, whether or not the person acknowledges those rules. As a result, the secular often becomes an unwitting vehicle of truth—if we will only listen.

But when we trash the secular as having no value simply because it is secular, we develop an attitude of spiritual superiority, which is nothing more than pride in one of its most heinous forms. This results in our churches becoming ingrown, and we lose touch with the very world we are to evangelize. Finally our vision narrows and our perspective deteriorates until we become irrelevant—even though the God we serve and the message we proclaim are anything but irrelevant.

And that is a tragedy indeed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guidelines as Boxes

“Is it Christian?”

This is probably the most common question I receive when I vend a homeschool conference. An understandable question when you glance around my tables and see covers decorated with dragons, fairies, and superheroes. And I am proud that I can always answer that every book was written by authors who claim to be Christian.

Yet at times the question rankles me, for underlying it often is the idea that somehow the label makes the books safe for consumption. Indeed, that the only thing safe for consumption is the “Christian.” This attitude points the second common view of boundaries: that boundaries are inviolable boxes.

Just like treating boundaries as arbitrary guidelines, this perception also causes problems. Yet this may be the harder view to refute because it sounds so right. After all, many of us have no desire to break God’s commands, and aren’t we supposed to be undefiled by the world? (e.g. James 1:27) And how are we to prove we are undefiled by the world if not by a “clean” life?

So in order to prevent the possibility of contamination, we separate the world into two boxes: The “safe” Christian and the contaminating secular. As a result our homes become filled with Christian books, Christian movies, Christian music, Christian décor, Christian clothing. Moreover, anything that isn’t obviously Christian is automatically eyed with suspicion as a potential road to Hell…or at least, sin.

Yet God didn’t intend for us to live this way any more than He intended us to live without boundaries!

Yes, when we encounter the unknown, we should exercise caution. Yet Scripture also proves that God loves to work in new and surprising ways, as evidenced by the fact that He rarely performed a miracle or delivered His people exactly the same way twice!  

Yes, checkboxes can be helpful, and lists can aid us. Indeed, I would be lost without them. But lists and checkboxes are supposed to be tools—something that serves us, not something we serve.

Yes, God has given us rules and absolutes which are not to be violated, and when we do violate them, they carry harsh consequences. However, I think there are far fewer absolutes than many of us believe and far more flexibility within the absolutes which do exist.

Yes, we are to bear “good” fruit (John 15:16, Colossians 1:10). At the same time, a “clean” life doesn’t equal a “clean” heart—as shown by Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees, men known for their impeccable lives (Matthew 23).

Likewise, we are to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:16), conducting our lives in purity. But true holiness doesn’t result from checking all the boxes and rigidly following a list of do’s and do-nots. Nor does it come from isolating ourselves from the world. Rather, God give us His holiness through the work of Jesus Christ, in which we learn to live as we walk in this world according to God’s unique standard.    

So while God is a God of order, He created boundaries for our protection, not our entrapment. After all, Christ came to redeem those under the Law so that we would no longer have to live under the Law (Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-5, 5:18); we are saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So rules can’t save us—nor do they prevent us from sinning. Quite the opposite! If we are relying on boxes to keep ourselves from sinning, then we are trying to save ourselves on a personal, daily level. If we are trying to save ourselves, then we are not acting out of faith. And if we are not acting from faith, then we are sinning (Romans 14:23). That means relying on boxes to prevent sin actually causes us to sin!

Rather, just as we are to rely on God’s grace to save us from eternal punishment, so also we should rely on His grace to live each and every day as He desires.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

New Christian Fiction Releases - June 2017

Here's some of the new releases in Christian fiction for June 2017! For more in-depth descriptions of these books go to the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:
Engaged by Julie Arduini -- Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what's next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter -- When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah's North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn't get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac -- Would you give up everything for a life you hate with the person you love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children's theater. The writer/director didn't anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Cowboy's Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner -- When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez's help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Finding Love by Toni Shiloh -- Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney's husband--will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


Cozy Mystery:
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher -- When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)


General Contemporary:
Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak -- Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Katie's Quest by Lee Carver -- Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she'll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Historical Romance:
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller -- Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra's heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin -- In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She's in league with the British Secret Service, and she's harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn -- Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas', finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn't return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere -- When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson -- Set in WWII, an Irish woman must choose between her heart and her freedom when she finds a downed combatant pilot. (Historical Romance from Waterfall Press)

Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson -- Singer Fiona O'Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father's railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he's the man she needs when she's already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Freedom's Price by Christine Johnson -- On a quest to find her mother's family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Sutter's Landing by Betty Thomason Owens -- Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)


Romantic Suspense:
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn -- When someone threatens the baby she's adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he'll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Weaver's Needle by Robin Caroll -- Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn't want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)


Speculative:
The Revisionary by Kristen Hogrefe -- Revisionary or Rogue? To rescue her brother, Portia might have to break every rule in the book she set out to rewrite. (Speculative from Write Integrity Press)


Women's Contemporary:
Redemption's Whisper by Kathleen Friesen -- Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor's home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she's done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women's Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Young Adult:
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson -- Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)