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close up Max Lucado PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:19 PM EDT

MaxLucado-2014Latest project: Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer (9780849948480, $19.99, Thomas Nelson).

Why do you call yourself a “recovering prayer wimp”?

I think we assume Christian leaders or communicators are by nature people of strong prayer, and I’m not. I’ve always battled to have a regular time of prayer. I’ve struggled wondering why my prayers would make a difference. Serving God and doing things for God made a lot of sense, but talking to God made less sense to me, and so I’ve battled it in my life. And as I found out, many people in our church do as well. All of my books are sermons before they become books, and when I began talking to the church about my own personal struggles with prayer and how I wondered if there was a right way to pray or a wrong way to pray, I realized a lot of people ask these questions. That’s really where this whole book came from.

What is the pocket prayer you refer to in the book?

One of my struggles as a recovering prayer wimp is my thoughts wander. I zig and I zag, and I think this and I think that. One thing that has helped me through the years is having a prayer outline. I realize not everybody needs a crutch to help them stay focused in prayer, but I do. I went through the prayers in the Bible and realized most of them fall in one of five areas I’ve created: God, you are good—that’s worship; God, I need help—that’s request; they need help—that’s intercession; thank you—that’s praise; in Jesus’ name, Amen. So I would simply categorize my thoughts according to those simple statements. That’s where the pocket prayer came from.

How do you describe prayer at its best?

BeforeAmenI think prayer at its core is an honest conversation with God. I do not think we can mis-pray any more than a child can mis-hug. I think at its core, prayer is children talking to their heavenly Father. But I do think we can grow in prayer. We can learn to talk to God in a fashion that we see him answering our prayers. We can use our prayers as an opportunity to reflect upon the qualities of God, the character of God. We can use prayer as an opportunity to unload our anxieties and our fear. And I think we can see prayer as an opportunity to do spiritual battle in which we are literally directing the traffic in the universe because God wants to engage us in prayer. So these are all things we can grow in in our prayer.

What would you say to someone who prays for health, but then wonders why healing is not coming?

I think we can safely say God hears every prayer for healing, and He does heal us, either instantly [or] He may choose to heal us gradually, but He chooses to heal all of us ultimately in heaven. I’ve seen Him heal instantly, and I’ve seen it in my own life. More commonly, I have seen Him heal gradually, over a period of time. We read of cases [of this] in the New Testament, like with the blind man in John 9. Jesus took His time healing Him. It wasn’t just one second to the next. There is the promise that God will heal us all ultimately in heaven. That’s no small promise. Our time on earth is a short time, and all of our struggles here on earth are intended to prepare us for heaven. Part of healing prayer is understanding God does hear that prayer and trusting Him to do what is right. Prayer is not asking God to do what I want. It’s really asking God to do what is right. It’s a surrender of my will to His. And that’s good for me.

What else should Christian retailers know about Before Amen?

I have several books on prayer, but as I read those, I thought, This is a book for somebody who already gets prayer. Most books on prayer are written for very meditative, pensive, monastic, spiritual people. I’m not one of those. I’m a roll-up-the-sleeves and get-busy kind of guy. Is there a book for me? My book is a partial response to that question.

 
Bookbeat October 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:18 PM EDT

GrowingInPrayer-Passio

 

From Mike Bickle, founder and director of International House of Prayer, comes a book on prayer that includes everything from a basic overview of prayer to the Bible’s two model prayers to the results of prayer in the world today. Releasing Oct. 7 from Passio, a division of Charisma House, Growing in Prayer: A Definitive Guide for Talking With God (softcover, $16.99) offers a practical strategy for incorporating prayer into everyday life.

DontLimitGod

In the new Harrison House book by Andrew Wommack, the author and Gospel Truth broadcaster urges believers to experience the abundant life God provides. Wommack helps readers of Don’t Limit God to recognize the areas in which they are limiting what God can do in and through their lives and move forward. Releasing Oct. 7, the softcover book retails for $14.99.

TheReason

The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living is once-atheist Lacey Sturm’s story of physical abuse, depression and suicidal struggles before her conversion to Christ. Baker Books (Baker Publishing Group) releases The Reason in softcover ($15.99) this month. Once the voice behind the Christian hard-rock band Flyleaf, Sturm is now a solo artist, a speaker for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and co-founder of the Whosoever Movement.

FromThisDayForward

A new book for married couples comes from New York Times best-selling author Craig Groeschel and his wife, Amy. Zondervan releases From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage (softcover, $15.99) on Oct. 8. It draws from Scripture and the Groeschels’ ministry and 23-year marriage to outline five choices couples can make each day to not only save, but also enrich their marriages. Craig is founding pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a multicampus church and creator of the YouVersion Bible app.

TheLegacyJourney

In The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity (hardcover, $22.99), Dave Ramsey examines a biblical view of wealth and generosity and explores how Christians can manage their money for the benefit of God’s kingdom. Published by Ramsey Press and distributed by Nelson Books, The Legacy Journey is available Oct. 21. Ramsey is a New York Times best-selling author and host of a nationally syndicated radio show. His books have sold more than 7 million copies.

BreakthroughFaith.jpeg

To empower believers to live a victorious life, Destiny Image releases Breakthrough Faith: Living a Life Where Anything Is Possible (softcover, $15.99) by Larry Sparks on Oct. 21. The author teaches how to activate breakthrough faith through overcoming obstacles, unlocking the true desires of one’s heart and more. An author, speaker and columnist, Sparks can be heard on his weekly radio program “Voice of Destiny.”

ALifelongLove

The companion to Sacred Marriage by best-selling author Gary Thomas releases Oct. 1. In A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is About More Than Just Staying Together?, Thomas focuses on three key aspects of a strong marriage and provides the tools couples need to make their marriages all God intended them to be. From David C Cook, this hardcover book retails for $18.99.

WhySuffering

With sensitivity, Ravi Zacharias, with Vince Vitale, explores the complex problem of pain and suffering in Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense ($22, hardcover). Zacharias is the founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and best-selling author of many books, including Why Jesus?. Vitale teaches at Oxford University and is senior tutor at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. FaithWords will release Why Suffering? on Oct. 21.

 

 
Praying women have powerful impact PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:07 PM EDT

ScarletThreads-CharismaHousePerry Stone, best-selling author and director of Voice of Evangelism, has not found a single case in Scripture where a praying woman did not have her prayers answered. Stone says the Bible shows that while a godly woman cannot resist praying, God also cannot resist her prayers.

Releasing this month, Scarlet Threads: How Women of Faith Can Save Their Children, Hedge in Their Families, and Help Change the Nation (9781621369981, $16.99, Charisma House) focuses on the biblical story of Rahab.

Rahab received three instructions from Israel’s spies: to keep silent, place a scarlet thread on her window and remain inside the house. The thread was a sign to Joshua’s warriors that Rahab’s family should be protected, and, Stone says, a visible symbol of God’s covenant. He suggests that Rahab’s instructions can be used as an example for prayers of protection.

A woman’s prayers, he says, wrap a thread of faith around those in her household.

“If your house has been consecrated to God, through prayer there is a certain level of protection any person receives as a covering when he or she remains in your dwelling,” he writes.

Stone asserts that God can even grant a “hedge” for a woman’s family members who are not in her home, like the hedge he assigned around Job’s extended family. Further, Stone calls godly women “the immune system in the church and the nation.”

Learn more at charismahouseb2b.com

 
Shining the light of Christ in stormy seasons PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 04:04 PM EDT

Brooklyn Tabernacle pastor Jim Cymbala urges refocus on early church practices and spiritual renewal

StormWhen Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City one October evening in 2012, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, saw the lights of Lower Manhattan go dark. When he saw the devastation Sandy left behind, he felt the storm was a relevant metaphor for the current state of the Christian church.

Based on several warning signs, Cymbala believes the church is in the early stages of a big storm.

“Our light in the world is flickering and we must face that reality,” he writes.

In Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In (Zondervan), written with Jennifer Schuchmann, Cymbala discusses what he calls “calamitous” signs: the shrinking number of evangelicals, the lack of personal transformation and the decline in biblical literacy.

Believers are tempted to blame forces outside the church for these problems, Cymbala says, because our culture is increasingly antagonistic to biblical faith. Yet, the New Testament church thrived in worse conditions. Rather than blaming external targets, members of the early church concentrated on “the simple instructions Christ gave them and expected his grace to help them,” he writes.

While he acknowledges that some churches are fruitful, Cymbala adds, “on the whole we are not seeing anywhere near the fruit in our churches that we read about in the New Testament.” He draws readers back to these early church principles: devotion to prayer, focus on Christ and reliance on the Holy Spirit.

Hannah’s Old Testament prayers are the model Cymbala suggests for today. He describes them as desperate, but also filled with deep faith.

Cymbala also reminds readers that the New Testament church was a powerful witness only because of God’s Spirit.

“We can still experience the stirring power of his presence today,” he writes.
Cymbala shares inspiring stories of people he has encountered in his ministry whose lives demonstrate the power of God.

The author also beseeches the church to remain salt and light in the world.

“A Holy Spirit renewal with a return to the New Testament as our authoritative guide is the only hope,” he writes.

Learn more at zondervan.com.

 
FICTION FILE [ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Gina Holmes PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 11 August 2014 12:00 PM EDT

GinaHolmesLATEST PROJECT: Driftwood Tides (9781414366425, $14.99, September).
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers.

What is the premise of your new book, Driftwood Tides?

Libby Slater gets the shock of a lifetime when she receives the results from her premarital genetic testing and learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is given the name of her biological mother. Libby isn’t able to locate her, but is able to track down her husband, Holton Creary, who knows nothing of the child his wife gave up for adoption. Together the two try to find out the truth about Libby’s mother and the place they fit in each other’s lives and hearts.

What type of character is Libby Slater?

Libby is a seeker. She’s always known she didn’t quite fit in with her family, so besides it being a shock to learn she’s not who she thought she was, she learns no one in her life really is. In many ways she’s been dealt a tough hand in life, but she realizes she’s also been given many blessings—although it takes her the majority of the story to come to that conclusion.

What is Holton Creary like at the start of the story?

Holton is a temperamental artist through and through, but also a sheep posing in wolves’ clothing. He drinks to numb the pain and guilt of losing his wife and tries to be as standoffish as he can to keep others at bay so he doesn’t hurt anyone else or get hurt.

Why is forgiveness such an important theme for you?

I’ve had an interesting life and have needed to offer a lot of forgiveness to the people I love the most. Being just as human as they, I’ve needed to ask for quite a bit as well. I think Christianity at its core is about forgiveness. God gives so much grace, but in return, He asks us to extend it to others. There seems to me to be so much difficulty with not just the world, but the church also, being willing to forgive others. I have a hard time understanding how we can think we are any less wretched than those who’ve hurt us. Surely we’ve hurt others just as often. Surely we’ve hurt God’s heart.

Are there other themes in this novel?DriftwoodTides

The question of what makes someone a parent. I was raised for a vast part of my life by a parent of no biological relation. I struggled with who was really mom and dad and have come to the conclusion that biology, to me, is far less important than commitment and love.

What is one thing you want readers of this book to take away?

That no one is perfect. The person sitting in the pew on Sunday every week and doing their daily devotions each morning is no less a sinner than the alcoholic down the street who has fallen into a pit of despair. God longs for both of them, and no one is beyond the reach of Jesus.

Did your background in nursing help in writing this book?

It always does. Being a nurse has allowed me to see people in the most vulnerable situations without the mask we all put on to face the world. It’s given me an incredible opportunity for insight into what makes people really tick when they’re scared, mourning, witnessing the miracle of birth or the (worldly) finality of death. It’s been such a gift.

How would you describe your style as a writer?

I try my best to write the way I really think. Friends would describe me as down to earth, and I hope that shows in my writing. I don’t want to be fancy or throw out big words that readers have to stop every other page to look up. I want to speak in a way that most will understand. I’ve always assumed I’m pretty common, so if I struggle with something or have thoughts that may seem off the wall, I assume others do, too. Some of the stuff I write is a little quirky.

What else should Christian retailers know about Driftwood Tides?

I’ve, to date, written about some really tough subjects: death, abandonment, infidelity, abuse and alcoholism, and although I again take on alcoholism to some extent, this book, I’d say, is less issue-driven than my others and quite a bit lighter. The setting is my favorite part. Who doesn’t want to spend the time it takes to read a novel digging their toes into the soft sands of the Outer Banks and counting their blessings? That’s what I think the biggest takeaway from Driftwood Tides is. It was for me in writing it at least.

 
Close up: Jonathan Cahn PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 11 August 2014 11:53 AM EDT

Cahn-Jonathan-PhotoLatest project: The Mystery of the Shemitah: The 3000-Year-Old Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future, The World’s Future…and Your Future (9781629981932, $16.99, FrontLine/Charisma House).

Your book The Harbinger has sold 1.8 million copies and has been a New York Times best-seller for more than 110 weeks. How do you explain that?

Part of the reason, I think, is that The Harbinger is very different. Its nature has caused it to stand out and be noticed from the beginning. On top of that, everyone is interested in what the future holds. The Harbinger doesn’t give a general or theoretical idea of the future, but a very precise and specific revelation of what lies ahead. Beyond all that, and probably most important, is the same reason I can take no credit for anything about The Harbinger. … God wanted the message to go forth and made sure to send it. Before He judges, He sends warning.

How is The Mystery of the Shemitah related to The Harbinger?TheMysteryOfTheShemitah

The Harbinger contains 14 central mysteries. One of these is the “Shemitah.” Most people had never heard [the word], yet it comes from the second book of the Bible. As with The Harbinger, I didn’t plan to write [The Mystery of the Shemitah]. The Shemitah is not only an ancient mystery, but an event that will soon be upon us. Because of that, there’s been an explosion of speculation and concern for what it will bring. Charisma Media felt there should be at least a booklet to help people prepare in light of it. I wasn’t intending to write another book until I heard from the Lord that it was time—as with The Harbinger. I offered to help [write the booklet], but as I started, I was flooded with new and unexpected revelations concerning the mystery and how it’s manifesting even now and what it reveals about the future. There was no way a booklet could contain it. The same way the writing of The Harbinger just flowed onto the pages, so too did The Mystery of the Shemitah.

What exactly is the Shemitah?

The Shemitah is something that came from the mind of God and was given to Israel on Mount Sinai. It was the seventh year, the Sabbath year, a year of rest, release, cessation and a nullifying or wiping clean of the nation’s financial realm. But that’s just the beginning. Later on, the Shemitah becomes a prophetic sign against a nation that once knew God, but now has driven Him out of its national life and culture, a sign that strikes the nation’s financial realm and a sign linked to national judgment. That sign has now appeared in America. It holds the secret of America’s future, the world’s future and the future of everyone living.

When is the next Shemitah?

The next Shemitah will begin on Sept. 25, 2014. It will come to its conclusion and climactic day on Sept. 13, 2015.

The Harbinger was written as a narrative, so why did you choose a nonfiction format for this book?

Writing it in a nonfiction form allowed me to do things I couldn’t otherwise do. For example, The Mystery of the Shemitah includes many visuals, illustrations, charts, graphs … things which would not be possible if it were in narrative form.

What else would you like Christian retailers to know about your new book?

I was recently at an event with Mike Huckabee, and he used the word “stunning” to describe The Harbinger. That’s probably the most common word I’ve heard people use to describe it. So I would say this: What is contained in The Mystery of the Shemitah is no less stunning. The mystery is bigger than anyone had imagined, including myself. The Shemitah has affected all of our lives from the beginning of our lives. It is affecting American history, world history, even now. ... And it reveals the future, what will be coming to America and nations, and what lies in store for our lives. The mystery is truly mind-boggling.

 
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