Summer Reading

As Christian workers, our busy lives sometimes don’t leave much time for reading for pleasure. When was the last time you read a Christian novel? Maybe Christian fiction seems like a waste of time when you could be doing something more profitable, but consider this:

  • Stories broaden your world and help you understand other points of view.
  • Reading builds vocabulary, writing skills, and creativity.
  • Reading slows memory loss in later life.
  • Reading helps you escape from your problems and rest.
  • Reading relieves stress (and who doesn’t need that?)
  • Reading good Christian novels fills your mind with good things.
  • You can read wherever you go, even while you are waiting.
  • Reading is fun!

This summer as you head toward the mountains, the beach, a national park, or your relatives, don’t forget to take a book or two. Load up your e-reader with quality Christian fiction and be ready for everything from  a peaceful quiet time to a long ride in a car.

Need help to get started? Check out my list of 5 fiction books and 2 nonfiction books about cross-cultural relationships and ministry.

 

Why I Emphasize Ministry in my Christian Fiction

I’ve published seven Christian novels and every one of them has one common thread.

The settings include Taiwan, New Zealand, China, Montana, Idaho, and Minneapolis. I’ve lived many of these places, but not all of them.

Two of them are written for pre-teens, two for teens, and three for adults.

Six of them deal with cross-cultural relationships. The one that doesn’t deals with an unbeliever trying to fit into a world of unbelievers.

Six have some connection to missionaries or missionary kids.

But every one of them has a strong connection to ministry. If you read a Deb Brammer book, you’ll read about ministry. Why do all my books have such a strong link to ministry?

Ministry is who I am.

I grew up in a pastor’s family. As a teen I helped my dad start churches. My husband and I have served as missionaries for forty years, first in Taiwan (1980-1996) and now in New Zealand (1998-today.) I not only feel called to ministry. I can’t image being anything else but a fulltime missionary or pastor’s wife.

I feel a strong passion for ministry.

After all God has done for me, why would I want to do anything else? Serving God and others is the main purpose God put us on earth. While it is possible and necessary for non-vocational Christian workers to serve the Lord, there’s no higher calling than serving the Lord in fulltime ministry. It allows us to take part in drawing people to Christ and helping them grow to maturity. Though the Lord doesn’t call everyone to this kind of life, we need more Christian workers. We need to challenge more people toward vocational ministry.

It’s hard to find ministry in Christian fiction.

When you think about it, isn’t that a bit strange? Scan current Christian novels and you’ll find lots of detectives, law enforcement and search and rescue workers, medical and legal professionals, but few pastors and missionaries. For some reason, Christian stories about Amish abound. Lots of characters are involved with house renovation. Christian celebrity protagonists are fairly common. But books about vocational Christian workers are rare.

Don’t Christian workers read fiction too? Wouldn’t they like to find fiction that resonates with their experience? One of my readers, a pastor’s wife, wrote this review of Broken Windows:

Now THIS is Christian fiction. “Broken Windows” is recognizable to me. These are the situations and conversations that I am familiar with. These are the people that I know and love in churches and Christian homes and colleges all over the nation. Deb weaves through her stories an uncanny way to my own issues I’ve dealt with either in the past or right now.

I believe many Christians would enjoy and profit from Christian fiction about characters involved in ministry. So I include ministry in most of my writing.

When you find vocational ministry in Christian fiction, it can be disappointing.

Stories about pastors seem to feature mega-church pastors involved in moral failure or who are in ministry for the power trip. Stories of current day missionaries usually feature some strong social evil like terrorism, slave trade, kidnapping or hostage taking. As if missionary life isn’t worth reading about unless lives are in danger.

I do understand that writing about church life can be tricky when your readers may come from a broad range of backgrounds. No wonder so many authors write historical novels with only one church in town.
I also understand that authors often aim for the most suspenseful stories they can tell, with life-and-death stakes. True-to-life stories about pastors and missionaries don’t usually fit into the suspense genre.

Personally, I yawn at scenes with car chases and blazing guns. I love books with great characters who I can identify with. And though pastors and missionaries all have their flaws, I like to see them presented as good role models.

In my Art Spotlight Mysteries I featured Jordan, whose parents were missionaries. In Broken Windows, the characters were involved in a kid’s Bible club. In Deja Who? Jordan is involved in a Bible study group for Internationals at Minnesota State University. In I Scream the ministry aspect is not as obvious, but the main characters are active in church and reaching out in a personal ministry to Destiny Champion.

I’m currently working on a ministry series that involves ordinary people on a mission field. I can’t really find anything out there that is like it, but I feel some will want to read about characters who are true-to-life missionaries. If you continue to subscribe to this Book Blast, you’ll hear more about that in the future.

Everyone should be involved in ministry as they serve others as a way of serving God.

Ministry is for everyone. I like these books by other authors because of the sense of personal ministry that is strong in them.

Doesn’t She Look Natural by Angela Hunt (Fairlawn Series)

I love this book because in it Jennifer Graham inherits a funeral home, which is a great situation. Though she initially wants to sell it immediately, she finds that running a funeral home can minister to people in a time of great need.

Deception on Sable Hill by Shelley Gray (Chicago World’s Fair Mystery Series)

In this lightly Christian book, rich girl Eloisa hates being in a position where social class defines her and expectations dictate who she can marry. Class expectations sentence her to a life of triviality until she breaks with tradition to work at Hope House, a place where she can make a positive contribution in spite of her social class. She chooses to serve others over serving herself in the privileged lifestyle to which she was born.

Cape Refuge by Terri Blackstock (Cape Refuge Series)

I loved this series because, although it is a mystery series, it deals with people in ministry who make it their business to help people in need.

And now, for my giveaway for this Book Blast:

Truth- Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock (Moonlighters Series)

This well-written mystery features brothers and sisters who come together to find out who killed their sister-in-law. They need to clear their brother’s name and reunite him with a 5-year-old son he has lost in a custody battle. The stakes are high and the resolution is satisfying. It’s a great mystery in its own right, but I especially like it because it deals with forgiveness and serving others. It has a strong Christian message without being preachy.

And the winner is:

Ruth Grosse! Her husband is a pastor in Dillon, Montana. Ruth is an excellent pianist and busy, caring pastor’s wife.

New and Original Christian Children’s Song

Technology has finally caught up to what I can do with scissors and glue. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, my use of technology and my online tools have brought me to a better place. At any rate, I am now able to offer my Road Sign Song for free download. I wrote this song some years ago for our ministry in New Zealand, cutting and pasting cardboard signs to paper. Thanks to Canva (https://www.canva.com) I’m now at a point when I can offer both a print and PowerPoint option for the visualized version of this song. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

If you’ve sung the “Stop” and “Go” song in your children’s ministry, (and who hasn’t?) you’ve seen how this song brings excitement to each new generation as kids take turns holding the signs. My Road Sign Song uses eleven different road signs to present a strong Christian message. I originally used it when teaching the book of Acts, but it can be used at any time. I hope many can use it so effectively communicate Christian truth.

You can download the sheet music, a printed visual or PowerPoint version of the words here.

Allergy Friendly Communion Bread

People with allergies can be such a problem, especially if you aren’t used to cooking for them! They are, however, real people with real needs. They deal with their allergies every day of their lives. The church can be a blessing to them by finding out about their allergies and working with them. Communion time is a great time to show love and respect for sincere Christians who have to deal with allergies.

Communion bread is easy to make using my recipe. Using gluten free flour makes the bread gluten free. If you choose your gluten free flour carefully, you can also make it soy free or maize free.  My husband is pastor of our mission church and must eat gluten free. We also have people who need soy free or dairy free diets. I make all our communion bread with this recipe that can work for everyone in our church.

Just recently I’ve discovered some crackers that also work for communion. If you hunt around, you may also find some that work for you.

If you picture yourself as a Christian who, because of allergies, could never again take communion, you’ll realize what a blessing your allergy friendly communion bread can be.  With a little effort you can include every Christian in your church in your communion service.

4 Ways to Reach Out to Your Unsaved Husband

  1. Make a list of things about your husband you wish were different.

If there are issues you can’t accept, work to resolve them.

Burn the rest of the list.

  1. Make a list of things about him you’re thankful for.

Thank God for these things.

Then thank your husband.

When things about him bother you, replace those thoughts with things you’re thankful for.

  1. Study your husband.

What foods are his favorites?

What makes him feel loved? (Think love languages.)

What does he like to talk about?

What activities have you enjoyed doing together in the past?

What activities would he enjoy doing by himself or with his friends?

What has he wanted to do for a long time but hasn’t been able to do?

  1. Build Bridges

Use the things you’ve learned about him to find ways to show love for him.

Do something that he would enjoy even if it doesn’t interest you.

Make good memories together. Laugh and have fun.

Make home a pleasant place for him.

Find areas of commonality that you can agree on and talk about.

Bring him into decisions about the kids.

Agree on family rules.

Look for ways to support him.

Show him who God is by reflecting God’s image.

Share the gospel in a positive way as he gives you opportunity.

Be an attractive Christian.