Christian Retailing

Close Up Donald Miller Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 12:42 PM America/New_York

DonaldMillerLatest project:Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy (9780785213185, $19.99, Nelson Books).

What was the yearlong journey that eventually produced Scary Close, and why did you embark on that journey?

About five years ago I hit rock bottom relationally. I had terrible dating patterns and had hurt a few girls. I knew something had to change, so I got help. Over the course of a couple of years, some guides helped me figure out some things about myself that were keeping me from connecting. As I gained my footing again, I started dating Betsy and put some of the things I discovered into practice, fearfully hoping I had changed.

Why do you say, “I’d spent a good bit of my life as an actor”?

Like many people, I felt like I played a role more than I truly allowed people to know me. I think that’s true for a lot of us, even church folk. When we enter into a tribe that values righteousness, we are suddenly tempted to act a little more righteous, perhaps, than we actually are. This creates a kind of duplicity of personality if we aren’t careful. And it’s not just religious communities. Half the Instagram feeds we follow are likely filled with carefully produced images to make the lives of our friends appear more fun or interesting than they actually are. This comes at a cost. When we pretend to be somebody we aren’t, we lose the ability to connect with others. Intimacy requires that we allow ourselves to be known, that we don’t play a role and act, but are truly ourselves.

You write, “What lies between a person and what that person wants is work.” What was the first step of your work to become emotionally healthy enough for true relationship?

I had to get help. I had to go to a therapy center [outside Nashville] called Onsite to help me figure out what I was doing wrong in relationships. I was completely unable to see it for myself.

What is one of the key things you did in the months that followed?

I started searching for the reasons I did things. I was attracted to women [who were controlling], for instance, and got some help to find out why. I was easily manipulated, so I researched manipulative people to find out what their tricks were. I started looking for the roots of my problems rather than just putting a Band-Aid over them.

At what point in this process did you meet your wife, Betsy?

Betsy and I met years before we started dating. She helped run a bed-and-breakfast in Washington, D.C., and I stayed there when I visited the White House for a task force. I liked her immediately, but she didn’t respond until years later when I got healthier. So after I got help and became a more compatible man, she took notice. ScaryClose

What is the central message of Scary Close?

That healthy, intimate relationships are conditional. We have to do the work and become the kind of people who can be good for others or it won’t work. And that every human being can get there with a little help. It’s what the whole human story is about: connecting. Intimacy. And the work and sacrifice required to have it.

This book is not a collection of how-to lists. How do you describe the approach you took in writing it?

I really follow a story structure in this book. Technically, in story terms, it’s a rags-to-riches story. A rags-to-riches story is usually about an immature kid becoming qualified to run a kingdom. Of course there are a million variations, but mine is: An immature kid in relationships figures things out and is able to get the girl and run the company and create the family. When I realized that was my story, I plugged the elements of my own story into that well-known structure as a way of helping the reader enjoy the book more.

What are a couple of the potential benefits to those who read Scary Close?

More forgiveness for themselves and more hope that we can all have intimacy.

How can the lessons you learned apply to relationships other than marriage?

I write in the book about parenting, running a team and so on. This book is about all relationships, not just marriage. The gist of it is we have to be willing to let people know who we are if we want to connect.

What is on Are some of the lessons from Scary Close incorporated there?

There are three components to experiencing meaning in life, and one of them is definitely healthy relationships, so there are exercises in our life plan that help people build those relationships. Those exercises have already brought healing to thousands, including myself. So there’s some hope for us there.

Bookbeat February 2015 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 12:16 PM America/New_York


Nationally acclaimed real-estate entrepreneurs and twin brothers David and Jason Benham retired from professional baseball to build their business and secured an HGTV reality show, only to have the series cancelled when the network succumbed to media pressures regarding the brothers’ faith. In Whatever the Cost: Facing Your Fears, Dying to Your Dreams, and Living Powerfully (hardcover, $22.99), the Benhams share their story and the biblical principles readers can use to stand for what is right. W Publishing Group releases their book Feb. 10.



Lee Strobel, New York Times best-selling author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, presents personal, experiential testimony in The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives, which Zondervan releases Feb. 24. Strobel draws on his own journey from atheism to Christianity and on God’s amazing work in the lives of people today who were radically changed by grace. The Case for Grace Simulcast on March 1 will be hosted in churches across the U.S. oand will offer a closer look at the stories of grace found in the book, which retails for $22.99.



While conducting research for her Amish novels, Serena B. Miller noticed how remarkably happy the Amish boys and girls were in Holmes County, Ohio. Miller (with Paul Stutzman) reveals in More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting the principles of Amish parenting that do not focus on happiness, yet produce well-adjusted children. Howard Books releases this hardcover book Feb. 3 for $24.



 Drawing from firsthand experience and study, Charles H. Kraft offers a comprehensive resource titled The Evangelical’s Guide to Spiritual Warfare (softcover, $15.99) Kraft is vice president of Heart Set Free Ministries and is a former 40-year faculty member of Fuller Theological Seminary and missionary. Kraft shows that while 80% of the synoptic Gospels relate to the war against Satan, many evangelicals ignore the spiritual forces at work in the world. Kraft’s guide releases this month from Chosen (Baker Publishing Group).



From the best-selling author of Grace Points and Quiet Places, Jane Rubietta, comes Worry Less So You Can Live More: Surprising, Simple Ways to Feel More Peace, Joy, and Energy (softcover, $13.99). Releasing this month from Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group), Rubietta’s book addresses the soul-wearying fatigue of busy women trying to keep it all together. The author invites women to delight in God, who delights in them, and truly live again.



Erin S. Lane shares the lessons she has learned in practicing the hard work of community in Lessons in Belonging: From a Church-Going Commitment Phobe. Lane works for the nonprofit Center for Courage and Renewal and co-edits Talking Taboo, an anthology of writing from young Christian women on the intersection of faith and gender. IVP Crescendo (InterVarsity Press, $16) releases the book in softcover this month.



Evangelist Jesse Duplantis, whose weekly television program reaches 2.7 billion potential viewers worldwide, discusses the power behind true faith in Jesus Christ in For by It…Faith: If You Don’t Know What “IT” is, You Won’t Have It! (softcover, $10). Duplantis teaches how putting God first enables believers to experience all God has in store for them. Published by Harrison House, For by It...Faith releases Feb. 3.



Joneal Kirby shows women how to cultivate strong and lasting connections with each other in Heartfelt: A Woman’s Guide to Creating Meaningful Friendships (softcover, $15.99). Kirby is author of more than 50 books and Bible studies and is founder of the women’s mentoring program Heart to Home Ministry. Releasing Feb. 17 from Worthy Publishing, Heartfelt includes a guide to starting intergenerational small groups and draws women away from isolation and into mentoring relationships.

Redeeming the ‘fringe hours’ of daily life Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 07 January 2015 12:10 PM America/New_York

TheFringeHoursLike many women, author Jessica Turner has a full plate. As a wife and mother who works full time and runs a blog, she manages numerous responsibilities. Yet somehow she still finds time to care for herself and pursue her hobbies. Often women ask how she does it all.

Turner’s answer is that she’s not really doing it all. She mentions her dusty mantel and laundry piles and admits she actually lets a lot of things go—for good reasons.

In The Fringe Hours (9780800723484, $14.99) she shows women how to prioritize their activities and use slivers of time already present in their days to practice self-care and to do the things they love. Revell (Baker Publishing Group) releases The Fringe Hours Feb. 17.

Turner is founder of the lifestyle blog The Mom Creative and a founding member of DaySpring’s (in)courage community.

“As women, we are really good at juggling a lot. … But all too often, the one thing we don’t make time for in our busy days is ourselves,” she writes.

For The Fringe Hours, Turner surveyed more than 2,000 women and conducted dozens of one-on-one interviews, asking women how they spend their time and how they wish they could spend it. The responses revealed common threads, including an elusive pursuit of balance and the pressure of expectations.

Turner first addresses obstacles such experiencing guilt and wrongly thinking one must do it all. She observes that busyness is a celebrated lifestyle, yet over-activity and neglect of self-care are detrimental.

To help women say no to activities, she reminds, “Just because something is a good thing doesn’t mean it is good for this moment in your life.”

Turner then shows readers how to find pieces of time that often go underused.

“The goal of using your fringe hours well is to take time to do something that rejuvenates your soul,” she writes.

She believes that this lifestyle also benefit others in a woman’s life.

Turner’s book is intended for women in any life season. Questions are interspersed throughout the text. Infographics from the survey data, as well as a “Fringe Hours Manifesto,” are included.

For more information or to order, visit


BUYER'S GUIDE JANUARY 2015:New products focus on prayer and the Word Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Friday, 05 December 2014 02:41 PM America/New_York

Lighthouse Christian Products introduces the new “Devoted Sculpture Series” this month. The sculptures are themed on Acts 2:4 where the believers devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship, sharing and prayer.

LCP-PrayingCouple-DevotedMade of cast stone, the Devoted pieces are laser-engraved and handpainted.

Each of the collection’s three pieces also bears another scripture. Praying Couple (667665201809) focuses on Ephesians 4:2-3; Praying Man (667665201816) on Jeremiah 29:13 and Praying Woman (667665201823) on Psalm 17:6.

GodsGotAnAnswerForThatEach piece includes the We All Need Hope booklet and retails for $24.99.


In God’s Got an Answer for That (9780736959858, $12.99), author Jon Nappa sets out to help kids ages 8-12 realize that God cares about their challenges and fears—from bullying to battles with siblings, loneliness and guilt—and has given them practical help in His Word. With the help of a parent, young readers become “truth sleuths,” uncovering the root of their problem and looking to the Bible for the ultimate solution. Through a simple, straightforward process, kids will develop the ability to seek biblical wisdom for their real-world problems.

Harvest House Publishers releases the 96-page softcover book Jan. 1. An activity book (9780736961257, $6.99) and devotional (9780736961233, $9.99) are also available. Learn more at

Musical offerings range from heavenly to happy Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Friday, 05 December 2014 02:12 PM America/New_York

New releases feature mountaintop worship and a Southern gospel tribute



Worth Fighting For
Brian Courtney Wilson
Motown Gospel (Capitol Christian Distribution)
602537845101 Jan. 6

With his first recording since signing with Motown Gospel, Wilson mixes mostly live recording with some studio tracks for a contemporary gospel release that will inspire and energize listeners.

Produced by the company’s vice president of A&R, Aaron Lindsey, the songs aim to encourage listeners and draw them into worship. They include the title track, “The Promise,” “Hope Saved My Life,” “I’ll Just Say Yes,” “The Medley (All I Need, Already Here)” and “Our God Is Good.”




I Am They
I Am They
Essential Records (Provident)
Jan. 27

New Essential Records group I Am They releases its self-titled debut project this month. Comprised of Adam Palmer (lead vocals and guitar), Matthew Hein (lead vocals and guitar), Stephanie Kulla (lead vocals), Justin Shinn (keys), Bobby Stiehler (bass) and Sara Palmer (drums), the modern-worship group hails from Carson City, Nevada.

Songs on the release include “We Are Yours,” “Awake My Love,” “Your Love Is Mine,” “Over & Over,” “Again,” “King of Love,” “Even Me,” “From the Day, Make a Way,” “Here’s My Heart” and “Amen.”


We Will Not Be Shaken
Bethel Music
Bethel Music (Provident)
Jan. 27

Recorded live at a mountaintop retreat near Redding, California, this release from Bethel Music presents 11 new songs from the group’s artist collective, including several debut singers.

Songs include “Ever Be,” “Who Can Compare to You,” “In Over My Head (Crash Over Me),” “You Are My One Thing,” “Jesus We Love You,” “Seas of Crimson,” “You Don’t Miss a Thing,” “Home,” “No Longer Slaves,” “Nearness” and the title track, the result of a spontaneous moment of worship.

Along with the music, a film chronicling the creation of the worship event from which the album came is also available.  




Songs in the Key of Happy
Goodman Revival
Gaither Music Group (Capitol Christian Distribution)
Jan. 20

Paying tribute to one of gospel’s classic groups, The Happy Goodmans, a newly formed trio offers Songs in the Key of Happy. Goodman Revival—with members Tanya Goodman Sykes, Michael Sykes and Happy Goodmans singer Johnny Minick—continue the Goodman gospel legacy.

Songs include Southern gospel favorites and Goodman classics such as “What a Happy Time,” “This Is Just What Heaven Means to Me” and “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted.” The disc also features guest appearances by the Gaither Vocal Band and Russ Taff.