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Close Up: Leonard Sweet PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 03:58 PM EST

TheWellPlayedLifeLatest project: The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have To Be Such Hard WorkLeonardSweet ($15.99, 9781414373621, Tyndale Momentum/Tyndale House

What is your goal for this book? The church has rewritten the words of Jesus from “Come, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” to “Come, all you weary and heavy laden and I will give you more work.” To become a disciple of Jesus is almost to be sentenced to hard labor, so far removed are we from the Hebrew understanding of life as Shabbat Shalom. It’s time to trade in our hard hats or pinstripes for a sombrero—with some confetti thrown in.

Why do you refer to play as a gift from God? When we first meet God in the Bible, God is playing in the dirt, making mud pies. Creation is not God at work, but God at play. Play is the oxygen for creativity, which sparks imagination, which ignites innovation, which combusts in paradigm shifts and sometimes detonates revolutions. My friend Todd Fadel says it best: “Play is your secret weapon.” In our creation story, we don’t get “labor” until the curse and banishment from the Garden. We have made life and worship into a work zone of human activity, rather than the playground of the Spirit who enlivens and enspirits us.

What is “Godplay”? Godplay is a fundamental approach to life based not on work and worry, but on God’s invitation for us to skip and dance all the way home. The march to Zion is not toil and travail, but a dance of Shabbat and Shalom by which we “enter into the joy of the Lord.” Godplay is living your life in such a way that you don’t work toward the pleasure and acceptance of God, but live from it and play in it. Any time you approach life with the joy of a child, it’s Godplay. Any time you praise and worship God, it’s Godplay. Any time missional living ramifies relationally in an incarnational way, it’s Godplay. The world needs more play, more God, more Godplay and Godplayers, not more work and more workers.

You write, “The quality of life depends on the quality of our play.” Would you elaborate? The greatest artistry, beauty and excellence come from a play paradigm, not a work paradigm. The provisional title for this book was You Don’t Work a Violin. If you want to live a life of beauty, truth and goodness, you need to learn how to “play” your life. We are all artists, but our “medium” is our life; our canvas is our total being and identity. Our primary brush is the play-strokes of the soul. 

What else would help Christian retailers promote The Well-Played Life? The implications of a theology of play ramify in every direction of life. It has major implications for our relationships and marriages, where we tend to try to “work it out” rather than “play it through.” It even revolutionizes the whole world of education. We need an education system designed to find and nourish all talents, not just some talents. Every child deserves discovery. And this is best done through play, not standardized testing or rigid curriculum planning.

Pastor finds ‘renewed passion’ after son’s death PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 03:57 PM EST

When Steve and Sarah Berger’s 19-year-old son, Josiah, died as a result of a car accident, the Bergers became more focused than ever on heaven, with Steve launching into a fresh study on the subject. When they learned Josiah had committed to be an organ donor, demonstrating his eternal perspective and compassion, their thoughts about how to live on Earth changed dramatically.

BetweenHeavenAndEarthSteve Berger shares their story in Between Heaven and Earth: Finding Hope, Courage, and Passion Through a Fresh Vision of Heaven (9780764211676, $14.99), which Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) releases this month.

“Josiah’s passing lit a fire under me to teach about heaven with a renewed passion,” writes Berger, pastor of the 4,000-member Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, Tenn.

He believes that many Christians consider heaven only after a traumatic event and that many hold misconceptions about their eternal home.

In the book, Berger discusses what believers can expect in heaven—or not. He refers to heaven as the believer’s “real home” and adds: “You were not made for this place; you were made for heaven.”

Berger also explains how the apostle Paul’s life is an example of being heavenly minded and doing earthly good. 

“Paul’s heart was passionately fixed on heaven while his hand was purposefully working to produce fruit,” he writes. 

Berger calls this approach “Heart in heaven, hand in the harvest” and says this is the “hard-pressed living” Paul refers to in Phil. 1:3-24.

To have one’s hand in the harvest is to spread the good news, disciple fellow Christians and send those willing to evangelize and serve. Berger details the obstacles to this lifestyle and the tools needed for victory.

To order, call Baker Publishing Group at 800-877-2665.

TLC’s Duggar daughters address fans’ questions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 03:56 PM EST

Four eldest girls of reality show’s famous super-sized family share their faith and lifestyle in new book

GrowingUpDuggarThe Learning Channel’s weekly program 19 Kids and Counting has quite possibly made the Duggars the best-known large family in America.

The four eldest daughters—Jana, 24; Jill, 22; Jessa, 21; and Jinger, 20—have grown up in the spotlight and frequently encounter girls and young women who want to know what it’s like to be raised in the Duggar family. Many also want advice for their own lives.

In response, the daughters talk about their faith, their convictions and the benefits of the Duggar lifestyle in Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, available this month from Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. 

While they acknowledge that their family isn’t perfect, they credit their parents for daily emphasizing the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships. In Growing Up Duggar, the girls examine a girl’s relationship with herself, her parents, her siblings, friends, guys, the culture, the country and the world.

For the authors, their relationships are rooted in a connection with God, and they refer to this foundation in every chapter. About friendship, they write: “True friends encourage us to focus on things that are beneficial to us. We will grow closer to God because of our relationship with them.”

One of the longest chapters is about a girl’s relationship with guys. The Duggar girls indicate that many of the questions they receive are about courtship, or as they call it, “dating with a purpose.” They explain the differences between courtship and dating, discuss the importance of purity and mention some of the characteristics they hold important in a future spouse.

The girls view service  to others as the primary focus for Christians. They write about several ministries in which family members have volunteered. 

They also explain and affirm many principles and practices their parents have taught them. 

“Children grow up seeing what their parents value,” they write. “We are grateful to have parents whose faith in Jesus is their top priority.”

Growing Up Duggar is filled with family stories and includes 70 photos. To order, call Howard Books at 800-858-4109.

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