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Following God’s script for the family PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Friday, 05 December 2014 12:07 PM EST

BecomingAHaving counseled families for more than 25 years, Michelle Anthony is well-acquainted with a variety of parenting methods. The author of several books, Anthony is also vice president of learning resources at David C Cook, which releases her new book, Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family: Avoiding the 6 Dysfunctional Parenting Styles (9780781411394, $15.99), this month.

The book opens by comparing life to filmmaking. Anthony asserts that while God is the writer and director of each life, people often want to control their own destinies rather than follow God’s script—which leads to parental dysfunction.

Anthony uses stories from the Scriptures and modern families to illustrate six unhealthy parenting styles, including “The Driver Parent” and “The Double-Minded Parent.” But in a spiritually healthy family, parents extend grace and help their children see God’s path. They see beyond their children’s immediate behaviors to the goal of faith formation.

Spiritually healthy families are “families working together as loving cast members, discovering the intimate beauty of watching the character development of each person unfold—in the midst of the  messiness,” she writes.

Anthony said changing one’s parenting style is “a process in which the Holy Spirit will work on you (and with you) ‘deep down’ over time.”

To order Becoming a Spiritually Healthy Family, visit

‘Duck Dynasty’ couple helps couples in crisis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Friday, 05 December 2014 11:54 AM EST

Al and Lisa Robertson tell their story of marital trouble and ultimate reconciliation in Howard Books release

FICTION FILE December 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 11:15 AM EST


[ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Dorothy Love

Latest project: The Bracelet (9781401687601, $15.99, Dec. 9).

Thomas Nelson.

How would you summarize your new novel, The Bracelet?

When newly engaged Celia Browning receives a bracelet that spells out a deadly message, she sets out to uncover the truth about her family’s tragic past before long-buried secrets ruin her brilliant future.

What is the setting of the story?

The story takes place in Savannah, Georgia, in 1858-1859.

What are some of the actual events that inspired this book?

In Victorian times, gentlemen would sometimes send messages to their sweethearts through precious jewels. This charming custom first inspired the story. Later, I learned of the tragic death by suicide of a young Savannah matron and of the myths surrounding her death that still persist in Savannah today. Combining the two gave me the complete story of a young woman about to become engaged who finds her happiness threatened by old secrets she does not understand.

Tell us about your main character, Celia Browning.

Celia is privileged, but far from spoiled. She lost her mother at a young age and adores her father, who is a prominent shipping magnate in Savannah. She is highly loyal to her city and to those she loves. She is generous, sometimes impulsive, but unwavering in her quest to protect her family’s name from an unscrupulous newspaper reporter.

What are some of the themes you explore in this story?

I was interested in writing about the limits of loyalty, the effects of secrets, the way in which secrets change us, how little we sometimes know the people we think we know best, the pressures of notoriety and the power of forgiveness.

What topics did you research to write The Bracelet?

TheBraceletI read at least a dozen books on various aspects of Savannah’s history, both antebellum and postbellum. I studied the history of the Sorrel-Weed House, which served as the model for Celia’s fictional home. I studied dressmaking, ship building, blockade runners, 19th-century medicine, antique weapons, the Chatham Artillery, shipping routes, the transatlantic cable, baseball, the slave ship Wanderer and horse breeding in Jamaica, among other topics. That’s one reason I love writing historical fiction. I love learning about this stuff and sharing it with my readers.

Is this novel similar to and/or different from your previous works?

All of my novels are about strong fictional women inspired by real-life events or real-life women. Last year’s novel, for example, was inspired by the life of Elizabeth Allston Pringle, a woman rice planter in the South Carolina low country. I relied on her journals and numerous biographies of her family to tell my story. The Bracelet is inspired by actual events in the Sorrel family of Savannah and by the custom of the jewels described above.

The Bracelet is a stand-alone novel, but will readers have an opportunity to see the main character, Celia, again?

Celia has an important secondary role in my 2015 novel tentatively titled Indigo Point. In Indigo Point, Celia comes to the aid of my lead character, India Hartley, a beautiful young actress unjustly accused of shooting her leading man during a performance at a Savannah theater. I had so much fun reuniting with Celia. I grew to love her during the writing of The Bracelet.

What else should Christian retailers know about The Bracelet?

In the 19th century, a large number of the most prominent families throughout the South belonged to the Episcopal Church. Church members were highly engaged with their communities and involved in numerous charitable activities. In Savannah, many Episcopal ladies supported orphanages, hospitals, libraries and the arts, just as I have described them in The Bracelet. Faith was considered personal and private. Though some wrote about their faith in private diaries, journals and letters, they didn’t often speak of it in public.

As an author of historical fiction I take seriously my responsibility to portray the past as accurately as I can. This includes matters of faith and the way faith was expressed in that time. To insert overt messages into the mouths of these characters would not be accurate. Instead I have created characters who, when confronted with moral decisions, choose to act in ways consistent with their religious values and consistent with their understanding of what it meant to be Christian. This is the context in which the story should be read and, I hope, enjoyed.

Bookbeat December 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:47 AM EST


Former U.S. Army Green Berets Jerry Boykin and Stu Weber teamed up to write The Warrior’s Soul: 5 Powerful Principles to Make You a Stronger Man of God ($15.99, softcover). Among the five principles, the authors propound the reasons to engage in spiritual battle and the personal intensity needed to do battle. Weber is also an author and founding pastor of Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring, Oregon, and Boykin is founder of Kingdom Warriors Ministry and executive vice president of Family Research Council. Charisma House releases their book Jan. 6.



Chosen (Baker Publishing Group) releases Kris Vallotton’s guide to the prophetic next month entitled School of the Prophets: Advanced Training for Prophetic Ministry ($15.99, softcover). The best-selling author of Spirit Wars and The Supernatural Ways, Vallotton has served with Bill Johnson at Bethel Church in Redding, California, for 30 years. School of the Prophets outlines foundational truths about prophecy, including how to discern a calling and grow in the gift.



Too Many to Jail: The Story of Iran’s New Christians ($14.99, softcover) chronicles the growth of Christianity in Iran—despite persecution. The author, Mark Bradley, is a researcher specializing in Middle Eastern Christianity. Releasing Jan. 27 from Kregel Publications, Too Many to Jail focuses on the years of Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s reign, showing how the religious violence of his tenure actually opened doors for faiths other than Islam. Bradley includes individual stories of faith that show God at work in Iran.



Perry Stone’s Deciphering End-Time Prophetic Codes: Cyclical and Historical Biblical Patterns Reveal America’s Past, Present, and Future Events, Including Warnings and Patterns to Leaders (Charisma House) releases Jan. 6. The author of more than 40 books and director of Voice of Evangelism, Stone appears weekly on his television broadcast Manna-Fest, shown internationally via cable and satellite systems. In this release, he lays out the end-times events unfolding in the world today and the historical patterns leading to them. Available in softcover, the book retails for $16.99.


LifeTogetherInChristExamining the story of the two disciples who met Christ on the Emmaus Road, Ruth Haley Barton offers an interactive guide for small groups ready to experience life change in the context of community. Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community (Formatio/IVP Books/InterVarsity Press) releases this month in hardcover ($18). Barton is the author of several books, including Sacred Rhythms, and founder and president of the Transforming Center, a ministry equipping church leaders to cultivate communities of spiritual transformation.


SkinInTheGameBy posing eight key questions and reflecting on how Jesus related to people in the Bible, Rick Lawrence explores the idea that risk is required in the believer’s walk of faith. In Skin in the Game: Living an Epic, Jesus-Centered Life (Kregel Publications), Lawrence encourages readers to give their all for Christ, thereby finding the lives they really want. This title releases in softcover ($13.99) Jan. 27. Lawrence is executive editor of Group Magazine.


MotheringFromScratchMothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family shows moms how to set aside fear, allow for grace in their mothering and develop their own optimal parenting style. Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group) releases this softcover ($14.99) in January. The authors, Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo, founded the Mothering From Scratch blog and co-led an online group of moms on DaySpring’s (in)courage website.


TheGrandParadoxKen Wytsma, president of Kilns College and founder of The Justice Conference, addresses the issue of paradoxes in the Bible and in living out one’s faith in The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, the Mystery of God and the Necessity of Faith. Drawing on the work of Soren Kierkegaard, the author explains how the unknown and uncertainty are essential parts of the faith journey. Thomas Nelson releases Wytsma’s book in hardcover ($22.99) Jan. 27.

Pastor advocates ‘ordinary Christianity’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:43 AM EST

Tony Merida became a Christian in college, went to seminary, led a church in New Orleans and then joined the faculty of the seminary he had attended. Occasionally he ministered to the poor, but he identified most with his roles as pastor, preacher and professor.

It wasn’t until later that he became passionate about mercy-and-justice ministries. At a student camp, he was asked to lead a daily Bible study on the poor. Merida tells how that experience changed his life in Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down (9781433684166, $12.99), releasing Jan. 1 from B&H Books (B&H Publishing Group).

Ordinary“I began to see afresh God’s concern for the poor,” he writes. The Bible’s repeated emphasis on what he calls the “trio of the vulnerable: the widow, the orphan and the sojourner” particularly captured his attention.

Merida then considered how his life might better reflect what God’s Word says about mercy and justice. Soon he and his wife made great changes in their lives, including adopting five children and joining the fight against human trafficking.

Merida is founding pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as author of Faithful Preaching, co-author of Orphanology and general editor of the “Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary” series along with David Platt and Danny Akin.

His new book is a call to care about what God cares about, and highlights ordinary actions that “can make an extraordinary impact.”

“I want to push back against sensationalism and ‘rock-star Christianity,’ and help people understand that they can make a powerful impact by practicing ordinary Christianity,” Merida writes.

The chapters examine how to love one’s neighbor, show hospitality, care for the fatherless, advocate for the voiceless, and walk with God in humility. Merida points out the motivations for doing justice as a Christian: We are made in the image of God, we have been redeemed, and our Redeemer will return to restore this world.

Positing love as the basis for service, Merida insists that love always includes action.

“To embrace mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross means to get involved personally,” he writes.

He also emphasizes prayer, referring to it as not merely preparation for the work, but often the work itself.

Throughout the book, Merida examines the life of abolitionist William Wilberforce, whom he finds worthy of emulation. Along with various Scripture passages, Wilberforce’s example is a reminder of God’s delight in using ordinary people to reflect His justice in the world.

Merida tells readers: “You are a great candidate for such usefulness.”

To order, visit

Helping couples navigate dating to lifelong marriage PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:38 AM EST

Pastor Matt Chandler examines the wisdom of Solomon as a biblical model for relationships

TheMinglingOfSoulsPastor Matt Chandler is continually asked about how dating should work. The questions often reveal a desire for godly relationships, he says, but also a lack of wisdom and practical knowledge. His own courtship with his wife suffered early on, he admits, because he didn’t have a full biblical understanding of conflict.

Chandler leads The Village Church, a multi-campus congregation in Dallas with attendance topping 10,000. He is president of Acts 29, a network of churches planting churches, and author of several books, including The Explicit Gospel and To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, both written with Jared C. Wilson.

Chandler and Wilson have partnered again on a book that David C Cook releases Jan. 1. The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Sex, Marriage and Redemption is for singles and marrieds and relies on the wisdom in the Old Testament’s Song of Songs.

Solomon’s love story shows a couple pursuing romance, yet refraining from physical intimacy until marriage, then wholly celebrating their union and nurturing their relationship into old age. It is, Chandler asserts, a biblical model pointing to the hope of the gospel.

In The Mingling of Souls, Chandler states that love, marriage and sex were created and designed by God for His glory and our good.

“In a gospel-centered marriage, when two souls are mingled together with the Holy Spirit’s leading, we find confirmation after confirmation that grace is true, that grace is real—that we can be really, truly, deeply known and at the same time really, truly, deeply loved.”

Chandler warns against worldly approaches to dating, which, he says, seek to hide one’s true self and stir up love too soon. He believes “there are few things as damaging to the human soul as casual sexual encounters.”

Often, Chandler reminds readers that the God-given desire for physical intimacy is not inherently bad. However, he adds: “It must be held in check until marriage.”

He defines courtship as the stage where couples consider weightier issues. The point, he writes, is to determine “if the attraction is evidencing real love, the kind of selfless love the Bible calls married couples to embrace.” He stresses judging a prospective spouse’s character with help from godly counsel. Chandler also gives suggestions for conflict resolution, emphasizing forgiveness and the wisdom of responding rather than reacting.

Chandler speaks against all kinds of potentially abusive relationships—physical, verbal, sexual and spiritual—advising victims to “get out and get help.”

The final chapter of the book discusses fueling a healthy lifelong marriage. Chandler acknowledges that marriage often seems mysterious, yet adds: “What a great reassurance it is to know that God … knows exactly what he’s doing.”

To order, visit

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