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


FICTION FILE [ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Joel C. Rosenberg Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Friday, 05 December 2014 12:24 PM America/New_York

JoelRosenbergLATEST work: The Third Target (9781414336275, $26.99, January).

PUBLISHER: Tyndale House Publishers.

What is the premise of your new novel, The Third Target?

The premise is very simply, but also—to me, at least—terrifying: What if ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] acquires chemical weapons? Today we know that ISIS leaders are currently trying to bring down two governments in the Middle East—that of Iraq and Syria. I wanted to explore this question: Whom might ISIS go after next? What is the third target? The United States, Israel or some other country altogether?

What type of character is J.B. Collins?

J.B. Collins in an award-winning and highly respected New York Times correspondent. Primarily focused on national security affairs, he covers terrorism and has reported from the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s in his mid-40s. Single. Hard-charging. Very competitive. Cultivates great sources. And for all those reasons, he’s willing to take enormous personal risks to pursue a story.

Why is Tyndale releasing this novel three months earlier than planned?

I began developing the idea for The Third Target in the winter of 2013. ... I remembered Tom Clancy once saying that the New York Times, for all its flaws, is one of the world’s most effective intelligence-gathering agencies. That intrigued me, and I began playing with the idea of creating a new series around an American foreign correspondent who is essentially an intelligence operative, but one who openly publishes what he learns for the world to read and doesn’t write top-secret reports that remain within the intelligence community.

The challenge was that when I first began writing, no one at Tyndale had ever heard of ISIS. Actually, most people in the world hadn’t heard of ISIS at that time. But by the time the manuscript was finished, ISIS was the number-one story in the Middle East. They were gaining so much territory in Syria and Iraq and becoming such an enormous threat that everyone was talking about ISIS. President Obama, who only months before had said ISIS was a “jayvee”-level terrorist group, was now declaring war on ISIS. And given how fast ISIS was moving, the executives at Tyndale thought maybe we’d better get the book out before the events I wrote about fictionally were overtaken by real life.

Whom did you interview for this book?

Two former directors of the CIA, a former director of the Mossad—Israel’s intelligence agency—as well as several very senior officials in an Arab government.  

What helped you to be able to communicate the thinking of radical Islamists?

I talked to a lot of experts who have spent their lives hunting down, arresting and even killing radical Islamic terrorists. I specifically met with people who know ISIS, who knew its forerunner, Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). In addition, I interviewed people who used to be terrorists and have since had dramatic conversions and have become followers of Jesus Christ. My conclusion is that ISIS is far more dangerous than al Qaeda ever was. This is not just an evil band of men. These are Satanists. They are genocidal, and God forbid they ever get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

This story seems chillingly plausible. Do you sense you have a gift of prophecy at work in your fiction?

It could really happen. And I think that’s what draws people to my novels, that sense that these stories could be ripped from tomorrow’s headlines. That said, I don’t ascribe to a gift of prophecy. I write about geopolitical events and how they could lead to the fulfillment of biblical prophecies, and I do a lot of research to try to make each book as realistic and as plausible as possible.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I’m trying to use fiction to get people to focus on the truth, spiritual truth like in a world of evil and terrorism: Do you know where you are going when you die? And geopolitical truth, like the fact that ISIS poses a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our allies in the Middle East, and if we don’t take decisive action to crush them, they will hit us with genocidal force.

Too many leaders in Washington are exhausted by all this talk of war and terrorism in the epicenter. They want it to all be over. But Bible prophecy tells us wars and rumors of war and revolutions in the Middle East won’t end until Christ returns. Instead, they will get worse and worse. So we must stay on guard against great evil, lest we be blindsided by it. I’m deeply concerned that the president and his national security team are in over their heads. I don’t think they understand just how serious a threat we face.

Will you continue this story?

Lord willing, The Third Target is the first of a series. As far as I am aware, this will be the first novel about ISIS ever published. Let’s just pray none of it comes true.

Close Up Tony Evans Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Friday, 05 December 2014 12:17 PM America/New_York

TonyEvansLatest project: America: Turning a Nation to God (9780802412676, $19.99, Moody Publishers).

What is at the core of so many of America’s problems?

It is the departure from how God has designed government to function in terms of it needing to limit itself to its scope of responsibility and not invading the other arenas God has established.

Why did you write America?

To show Christians how we have helped create the problems in our nation and how we are the key to its cure. Also to call for America to turn to God in hopes that He will reverse our course and restore our nation to His definition of what a nation is to be when it operates under His rule.

In what ways is  the future of America in the hands of Christians?

It is up to Christians to be the conscience of the nation from God’s perspective and draw God’s engagement back into the culture. The church as a whole can have a positive influence for good in our nation by advancing God’s kingdom and principles.

What will transform the culture?

We begin with a solemn assembly where we corporately humble ourselves before God. Also, we Christians need to be comprehensively kingdom minded.

AmericaWhat is a solemn assembly?

A solemn assembly is a sacred gathering designed to restore God’s place in the culture. It is a time where God’s people, during a specific time of fasting and prayer, seek the renewal of their relationship with Him through repentance of sin and the passionate pursuit of the return of His presence in their midst. In the Scripture, this was something often called by those in leadership—whether a priest, prophet or king. It was something that would first be called for a specific, smaller leadership sphere before spreading to the entire nation. Even in America, historical records show that prior to every national awakening, the spiritual leadership of the day put a heavy emphasis on fasting and gathering for time of solemn assemblies.

What do you mean by “A Declaration of Dependence”?

America was born out of a desire for independence from the tyranny of England. Spiritual revival calls for just the opposite. God has not called us to be independent from Him but rather to exercise a verbal and visible dependence on Him. In making a declaration of dependence, God’s people dedicate their allegiance to Him in four spheres: personal, familial, the church and national. Personally, every Christian must decide to no longer serve two masters. Heads of households must declare like Joshua: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Local churches must recommit to making disciples and not simply increasing membership. The church must commit to become the conscience of the government.

What does it mean for Christians to “kingdomize” their skills, as you suggest?

Kingdomizing our skills means that we use our skills, talents and abilities to advance God’s purposes in the world and not merely our own goals or agendas. It means aligning our attitudes and actions with Matthew 6:33, which tells us to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” trusting that all the things we need will be given to us.

You outline a plan to impact America that begins in churches and communities. What is an example of such an outreach strategy for the local church?

One of the local programs with which our church has had success is The National Church Adopt-a-School Initiative ( The program is designed to prepare urban and suburban churches across America to forge partnerships with public schools to improve the lives of urban youth and families. Through this program, church and community leaders, as well as lay leaders and church members, learn how to address human needs effectively while at the same time modeling spiritual principles in a context of love, acceptance and accountability.

How do you suggest Christian retailers promote America?

On websites, retailers can create a cause-related area focused on revival and highlight America as well as other resources on the same topic. Also on the website, they can include America in their new and noteworthy releases and provide links to download the “Declaration of Dependence” documents and find out more about the call to a National Solemn Assembly scheduled to take place in 2016. In-store they can create a display or endcap focused on the state of the nation and include America; include America in the new-and-noteworthy releases section; have an employee read the book and write a recommendation to be displayed; and place copies in various sections of the store such as Church Resources, Christian Living, Politics, Contemporary Issues and Revival.