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Meet the Artist: Michael W. Smith PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 01:27 PM EDT

Sovereign-MichaelWSmithIconic artist Michael W. Smith brings his musical gifting to Sovereign, a collection of fresh worship songs, as well as a deluxe version CD-DVD with a concert featuring Kari Jobe and Leeland Mooring. Sparrow Records (Capitol Christian Distribution) releases both titles May 13. Smith recently told Christian Retailing about the process of putting the new record together.

When did you decide Sovereign would be a collection of original songs?

The plan was to do a record of worship around the world. I’ve been literally on five continents in the past few years. The favor of God blows my mind. I said to my team, “We have to record all these shows.” We captured some stunning moments, people worshipping, people in Brazil breaking into “Agnus Dei” in Portugese. That was what I was putting together with Capitol. I was working this song called “Miracle” with Chris York and said, “Maybe the ‘Worship Around the World’ record is for another time. Maybe we do an album of new songs.” He started flipping out. It’s not live, like what I’ve done in the past, and it’s not all corporate. Half of it is kind of anthemic.

Did having a new label change how you approached this record?

I think it was much more of a team record. I’ve always wanted to work with Bill Hearn at the people at Capitol. I felt like I needed to change it up. I talked to every major label and ended up at Capitol. I remember being in the room and saying, “Guys, let’s do this together. I don’t need a bunch of ‘yes men.’ I need some pushback.” I got out of my comfort zone and started writing with all these kids. I completely went the other direction and took a lot of risks. My faith had to increase a bit. We went through almost 120 songs to listen to, and it took that many to get to 12.

Who did you collaborate with for Sovereign?

“Miracle,” I wrote with Kyle Lee and Seth Moseley. It was a great collaboration, still one of my favorite songs on the album. We let that be the bar. It’s got to hit at least there. That’s just the beginning of it. I’m a little too close to it because I’ve been listening to it over and over again in the studio. You just want to go to an island and deflate a bit. “You Won’t Let Go” is another song with Seth Moseley. We were working on “Miracle,” and I said, “Let me hear what you’re writing. You got any ideas?” He played me the track and I picked up an acoustic guitar and started writing the melody. The song reminds me of Romans 8, “Nothing can separate.” We pulled Mia Fields in who’s a great songwriter. She came in and we bashed it out, and we all got excited.

With more Christian films releasing, any chance you will get in front of the camera again soon?

I’ve read so many scripts. I feel like there’s another film for me as an actor. It’s got to be the right story. I haven’t found anything. It’ll have to be right thing for me.

 
Funny woman Anita Renfroe delivers high-seas laughs PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 01:25 PM EDT

Latest comedy DVD recorded live during a cruise

ImNotHighMaintenanceBest-selling author and speaker Anita Renfroe offers her humorous observations on topics such as kids, vacations and accidental cell-phone dialing in her upcoming home-video release, I’m Not High Maintenance, Just Low Tolerance (622306019397, $14.99) available June 24 from Crown Entertainment.

The release was recorded live in a crowded theater on a cruise ship event, offering a unique setting, but also presenting its own particular circumstances. 

“Although the sea was calm during the first part of taping, occasionally, during the second half, I had to take a step back,” Renfroe told Christian Retailing. “You could see the curtains moving a bit.” 

The location provided a chance for Renfroe to discuss taking vacations with family and the difference in the way men and women pack for a trip. 

“Guys always talk about women packing, but we have a lot of different options to consider, like what color we might feel like on a given day,” she said. “Guys don’t pack emotionally.” 

Although not limited in her appeal to women, Renfroe admits her comedy is flavored from personal experiences. She hopes that all viewers will appreciate the observations she makes. 

“My comedy is female-slanted because I’m female,” she said. “I would rather people laugh because I’m talking about something familiar to them, not because they think I’m clever or hip or happening. I love the fact that laughter allows us to unite rather than highlight our differences.”

On the new release, Renfroe also offers an updated version of her hit “The Mom Song,” complete with rapping, and other songs about topics as diverse as fiber and the Psalms of David. 

The Psalms tune is “about this fictional company, House of David Publishing, where I talk about how David, when he wrote the psalms, didn’t realize he would be ripped off by all these worship leaders,” she said. 

Renfroe draws inspiration from her own life experiences, which she fleshes out before sharing with audiences. 

“Most of the time, a one-liner turns into five minutes of comedy when I think about it,” she said. “These are things that just keep happening in life. Humor is universal.” 

To order I’m Not High Maintenance, visit crownentertainment.us or call 866-791-0504.

 
‘Duck Dynasty’ star recalls life lessons PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 12 May 2014 03:02 PM EDT

Jase Robertson credits his relationship with Jesus for his ‘carefree attitude and joy for life’ in new book

GoodCallFans of the popular A&E TV show Duck Dynasty have shown at the cash wrap that they’re still voting for the Robertson family. This month a new book from the second-oldest son in the Robertson family, Jase Robertson, joins the growing number of works others in the family have written. Howard Books adds to the stable of titles with Good Call: Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl, which offers a similar blend of antics, humor and philosophy show viewers have come to expect, though Good Call explores Robertson’s faith in greater depth.

Known for his dry humor and competitiveness, not to mention his signature beard, Robertson explains what he considers to be some of the good calls he has made in life, and he’s not referring only to the duck calls he builds for his family’s business. Each chapter in the book describes an aspect of Robertson’s life such as his first hunt and the birth of his children, as well as related spiritual insights.

“I hope that by reading this book you discover that my carefree attitude and joy for life come from what I have found in Jesus Christ,” he writes.

He goes to explain that his belief system “does not come from a religious denomination or creed. It comes from the Bible,” and he refers to Scripture often.

Throughout the book are contributions from Robertson’s wife, Missy, and an abundance of hunting and fishing tales. On his second date with Missy, she helped load heavy tubs of days-old fish heads into his truck, and he had an inkling that their relationship might work. Through the years, she has been tolerant of his long hours hunting and fishing and his frog cleaning in the kitchen sink, which is important given that Robertson loves frog hunting so much he skipped his high school graduation for it. 

Robertson also opens up about his early childhood when his father, Phil Robertson, drank heavily and about the dramatic change in his family after the patriarch became a Christian. When the family moved to their current home, and Robertson spent his days hunting, playing hard with his brothers, attending church and enjoying his mother’s cooking. The family was not materially wealthy, but Robertson writes: “Once we moved to the banks of the Ouachita River, I wouldn’t have traded my childhood for anything.”

At 14, Robertson accepted Christ as his Savior. Although he was shy at that age, he talked about salvation before large groups of teens. Then, after high school, he attended seminary. In their first year of marriage, he and Missy baptized more than 100 people, and they continue to share the gospel liberally.

Regarding his family’s fame, Robertson writes: “In my opinion, fame is not about being recognized. It’s about recognizing that the God who made you makes us all famous.”

Robertson’s writing partner, Mark Schlabach, also has coauthored other books with the family members, including Happy, Happy, Happy; Si-cology 1; and The Duck Commander Family, all New York Times best-sellers.

To order Good Call, contact Howard Books at 800-858-4109. Learn more at simonandschuster.com.

 
Meet the Artist: NEEDTOBREATHE PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:52 PM EDT

RiversInTheWastelandNeedtobreathe, comprised of brothers Bear Rinehart (vocals, guitar, piano) and Bo Rinehart (guitar, backing vocals) as well as Seth Bolt (bass, backing vocals), readies the group’s latest project, Rivers in the Wasteland (Word Records/Atlantic, Word Distribution), which releases April 15. Bear Rinehart recently spoke with Christian Retailing about the album, which represents a return to the group’s roots. 

 

What does it mean that this record is a “turning point” of sorts?   The band’s been together for a long time, for 14 years, this being our fifth record, and a lot has happened over the last couple of years. We felt some things had gotten away from us personally and the business—all that’s intertwined. Some ambition had crept in and become too important and our identities had become wrapped up in it. It didn’t start out that way. We saw signs of that and it scared us. It culminated in us fighting a lot, things that are bound to happen when you get priorities messed up. For us, our identity personally in God and the band was more in God’s hands than ours. That took an incredible amount of pressure off of what we were supposed to be. It freed it up to where God could use it and surprised us. 

Do you typically write with a particular album in mind or simply write and collect songs for one of your upcoming records?   This record took a really long time. I think it was God’s plan for that in the way He gave us the songs. The first track [on the record], “Wasteland”—we’re starting with nothing. There’s a lot of confusion. Then there’s that feeling of hope. There’s a song called “Rise Again,” maybe showing that I’m getting a glimpse of how it will be when it turns around. The song “Multiplied” is about when we let go and give things to God, how He can use those things. I think this record needed to be spread out, so we could have those things happen in our own lives. 

Going forward, what does that new focus look like?  I think we appreciate each other on another level. … We felt like if we were supposed to walk away from it, we could.  Just having that faith and that willingness, I think God met us in that place. 

What was the inspiration behind the first radio single, “Difference Maker”?  I wrote that song, really struggling with the idea of how important we are in this process that God wants us to be a part of and how important that creativity is and struggling with our role in this thing. Most of the song talks about our neediness. That’s what ties us together with each other. I think God showed us that the way to be “difference makers” is not in the things that you do, but it is in that surrender.

 
‘Acts of God’ tackles difficult question of pain and suffering PDF Print E-mail
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:47 PM EDT

Former Southeast Christian pastor Bob Russell calls his new movie ‘very realistic and heavy’

ActsofGodFour intertwined stories tackle the question of God and human suffering in the Acts of God movie (9781939622181, $14.99, April 15), featuring nationally known pastor and speaker Bob Russell. In the film, seven people are pulled together unexpectedly through a terrible accident and their honest struggle as they ask God why it happened. 

“The concept originated with City on a Hill Productions in Louisville, [Ky.],” Russell told Christian Retailing. “They have done so much great work and Trinity Broadcasting approached them [saying] that they would like to have a movie about why God permits so much suffering in the world. City on a Hill then approached me and asked if I would work with them on this.”

Russell, who also plays a part in the movie, uses the story of Joseph in teaching DVDs and a companion book coming from Moody Publishers to explore the topic of suffering. He’s quick to point out the movie should not be thought of as “entertainment,” but that he hopes it will provide some comfort to those who have experienced pain. 

“This is a very realistic and heavy film,” he said. “It’s not just a feel-good or hokey movie. People going through suffering don’t need a theological [discourse]. They need personal touch. They need to know they’re not alone, that someone else came out the other side and still believes in God.”

The film was screened in theaters prior to its DVD debut, and reactions have been positive.

“People have come out of the movie and they say ‘Thank you, I had a son who was killed in an auto accident,’ ” Russell said. “It is so real and so down to earth I think it’s going to help people.”

Besides giving solace to those who have experienced suffering and are dealing with questions of faith, Russell said the film’s other purpose is to give Christians “ammunition” for defending their faith. 

“The number-one question nonbelievers have is, ‘If there is a God, why is there suffering?’ ” he said. “Some churches are reluctant to deal with this because they don’t have all the answers, and this movie doesn’t have all the answers. But we have to believe that God’s Word is true, and God’s Word will prevail.”

Acts of God tops off a full line of ministry resources released in February. The components—a small group study, participant’s guide and pastor’s kit—may be used individually or together in a campaign.  

Visit cityonahillstudio.com or actsofgodthemovie.com for more information. To order, call 502-245-2425, ext. 23.

 
FICTION FILE April 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 11:59 AM EDT

BridgeToHavenASK THE AUTHOR: Francine Rivers

LATEST PROJECT: Bridge to Haven (9781414368184, $25.99, April 22)

PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers

You have often said that each of your novels is inspired by a question. Is there a particular question that inspired Bridge to Haven?  I wanted to know more about the character of God. I spent more than a year reading through the Bible and filling pages with His attributes. He is the Creator, the Spirit that moved over the earth, the One who walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. He is our Deliverer, Father, Savior, Friend, Healer, Banner, Almighty, the Alpha and Omega. He loves His children and hates sin. And the questions kept coming: Why do people continually “fall in love” with man-made or conceived idols when He is the only One worthy of devotion and worship? Why did it take me so long to come to Him? And how can I be like Jesus when He is love personified, perfection, the perfect representation of Father God?

Sometimes the questions are too big to flesh out in a story. How do you create a character like God when He is too marvelous to behold, or His Son who is perfect and the Spirit who moves and breathes life through His Word into our lives, even translating our prayers in order to align them with God’s will? How does one live [out] God’s love for the sake of others? What does that look like in day-to-day life? How do people survive the pain that comes with rejection? How do we arrive at the happy ending we all crave? Those are the questions that drive the story.

Did some scripture inform this story?  I kept coming back to Ezekiel 16 in which God tells the story of the baby girl abandoned at birth and left to die alongside the road. He lifted her in His arms and loved her. He gave her gifts suitable for a queen, intending one day to make her His bride. It is a story of Israel, but it is also the story of each child born on this planet, each with the potential to belong to God. That story from Scripture became the foundation for Bridge to Haven. God is still the central “character,” but He is unseen, always working. The story is about pastor Ezekiel Freeman and his son, Joshua, and Abra, a baby abandoned under the bridge who grows into a beautiful rebellious teenager seduced and carried away by Dylan, a boy given over to living for self and the destruction of others. She is lost, and only God can find her and bring her home again.

Why did you choose Hollywood in the 1950s as the setting?  The Golden Years of Hollywood offered hope to countless young people who flocked to California to be discovered and made into movie stars. It still happens. From the true stories I’ve read, those who did make it were still broken people who never found happiness. Money and fame didn’t fulfill them, and sadly, some of the brightest “stars” burned out through suicide. It still happens. How many young stars do we see crashing and burning? Hollywood in the ’50s had all the glitz and glamor Satan might offer to a hurting, lost soul who yearns to be somebody who matters. It takes God to bring true light into the neon darkness and fill us with the assurance that God loves us so much He sent Jesus to make the bridge home.

What else you would like to share with Christian retailers?  Christian retailers are on the frontlines in the spiritual battle that rages around all of us and will continue until Jesus returns. Without people who place books in the hands of readers, what I do would end up being words on paper that end up tossed in a waste bin. We are all members of a team with the same goal—to promote Jesus and the gospel of our Lord. We live in a time like Judges when every man seems to be doing what is right in his own eyes. Any way we can share truth needs to be employed for the sake of the lost.

Read more of Ask the Author at christianretailing.com/francinerivers.

 
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