The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction

This is the second in a series of videos in which I take a look back at the making of my 9-volume novel series, An American Family Portrait on the 20th Anniversary of the publishing of the first book in the series, The Puritans.


  • This narrative technique is so powerful, it changed my life. I no longer teach history, I tell hero stories.
  • Four scenarios describe the power of this technique:
    • Scenario One: Reading about a historical event from a textbook.
    • Scenario Two: Reading a first-hand account of a historical event.
    • Scenario Three: Hearing a first-hand account of a historical event.
    • Scenario Four: Living a historical event through a point of view character in a novel.
  • Each scenario brings you that much closer to the action!
  • Good historical fiction transports readers back in time allowing them to experience the past for themselves.

CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!


“The Making of The Puritans”
Jack takes a look at the book that launched a series.

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Why I Write Christian Historical Fiction

This is the first of a series of videos in which I take a look back at the making of my 9-volume series, An American Family Portrait on the 20th Anniversary of the publishing of the first book in the series, The Puritans.


  • History, well done, is merely a collection of stories.
  • History combined with fiction transports the reader back in time so that they are living the past.
  • Christian historical fiction lets readers experience what it was like to live as a Christian in a previous day and age.
  • I write Christian historical fiction to tell hero stories that will change people’s lives.
  • In an age of serial-killer bestsellers, why we need hero stories.
  • I share some treasured letters from some of my readers.

CLICK HERE to start reading An American Family Portrait in minutes!


The Incredible Power of Historical Fiction
An exciting step-by-step journey about how fiction makes history come alive.

New Videos and Audios
posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays


Christmas and the Slaughter of Innocents

Christmas Devotion 2012

YET AGAIN OUR NATION MOURNS the senseless slaughter of innocents. The news from Sandy Hook Elementary School hits us particularly hard since it comes as we are singing Christmas carols, hanging festive ornaments, baking cookies, and wrapping presents, knowing that the seasonal preparations of families in Newtown, Connecticut have been interrupted by the horrific and unexpected task of funeral preparations. Festive joy mingles with cries of anguish.

Just like the first Christmas.

For as in Newtown, Connecticut, so in Bethlehem—

“. . . there a voice is heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
and would not be comforted,
because they are not.” (Matthew 2:18, KJV)

Though you won’t see displays of the nativity slaughter depicted with plastic figurines on lawns, or acted out on stages by children dressed in First Century costumes, the first Christmas was also scarred by the killing of innocents.

Of the gospel writers, Matthew alone records the incident. He records the visit of the Magi to the court of Herod, King of Judea; of their being received by this ambitious madman, who murdered his wife and killed two of his sons; of Herod’s feigned interest in worshipping the newborn king; and of his subsequent order to kill all the male children two-years-of-age and under to thwart the perceived threat of the Christ child.

Matthew also records the inconsolable weeping of the mothers of the slaughtered children, a mournful sound that echoes in the hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School; parents weeping for their children, refusing to be comforted, for their children are no more.

Great joy and bitter grief, both are inherent in the Christmas story. For only when we hear the angelic announcement in the heavens mixed with the mournful sobs on earth can we understand the true meaning of Christmas. It was no accident that God, a father, placed his infant son — his very human son — in a region ruled by an infamous murderer. For the light shines brightest where the world is darkest.

This Christmas, in the year of our Lord 2012, as we mourn the unspeakable loss of life at Sandy Hook Elementary School, every colored light that is hung burns a little bit brighter, every song that is sung sounds a little bit sweeter, and every gesture of goodwill and love serves notice to all those who bring evil and pain into our world, you will not win. Hope lives in us still.


Winston Churchill on Personal Libraries

245px-Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillI’M CURRENTLY READING William Manchester’s excellent biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion. Churchill loved books and often wrote about them. In the following quote he expressed my own behavior with regard to my 3,000 volume personal library — 

“If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.” 

[Friend Andy Glass directed me to the blog post, The Libraries, Studies, and Writing Rooms of 15 Famous Men. Kindred spirits all. Click here to see some great studies and writing rooms; included is Winston Churchill’s study.]


The First Step Toward Confident Living

Strength for the Quest
FINANCIAL BANKRUPTCY usually comes as no surprise. It’s not the result of a single misstep, but a series of small rationalizations over time, poor spending habits, and bad decisions that build like snowflakes on a mountainside, resulting in a sudden, cataclysmic avalanche. 

The same can be said about moral bankruptcy. In his novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky describes the downward spiral—  

“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies, becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and, in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal, in satisfying his vices. And it all comes from lying — lying to others and to yourself.” 

Making promises you don’t keep.

Exaggerating to get attention. 

Lying to avoid confrontation.

Writing verbal checks your life can’t cash.

Rationalizing that everybody does it. 

The first step toward confident living is being honest with yourself, honest with others. There is strength in truth, freedom in honesty. 

Because Life Is More Than A Journey