Christian Retailing

VeggieTales characters set sights on final frontier Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:46 PM America/New_York

Latest episode will appeal to moms and dads trying to teach children to share and care

VeggiesinSpaceBoldly going where no Veggie has gone before, Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato hit light speed in the newest Veggie Tales release, Veggies in Space: The Fennel Frontier (820413137397, $14.95), arriving in Christian stores March 8 and at general market outlets March 11. 

The episode follows the crew of the USS Applepies, including Captain Cuke (Larry) and Mr. Spork (Bob), as they confront the selfish Luntar the Looter, a space pirate. It also includes the appearance of a new character, Ziggy, as the crew learns a valuable lesson about sharing and caring for one another. 

Mike Nawrocki, the voice of Larry and co-founder and executive vice president of Big Idea Entertainment, told Christian Retailing that the lesson of the DVD is based on Luke 3:11. 

“It’s a topic a lot of moms find helpful, the biblical perspective on sharing,” he said. “We wanted to incorporate it in the show. With each show, we offer a nugget of truth and this one is, ‘When you have enough to share, you have enough to spare.’ ”

 The episode features plenty of laughs, as the VeggieTales characters parody science-fiction epics such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Veggies in Space also features special music from Christian artist Jamie Grace, who delivers the closing credits song, “Enough to Share,” and “Asteroid Cowboys,” an addition to VeggieTales’ “Silly Songs.”

“It’s so much fun to have these songs that appear within the show and doing a fun pop version of those songs,” Nawrocki said. 

In addition to sing-along features for the songs, the DVD includes other bonus features such as a “Build your own spaceship” activity, interactive Veggie trivia and a discussion guide for parents to use with their little ones. There is also a behind-the-scenes video with Jamie Grace.

A few months ago, the VeggieTales brand celebrated 20 years of delivering biblically based fun for the young and young at heart. The original Veggie DVD, Where Is God When I’m Scared?, released in December 1993. 

“It really is amazing,” Nawrocki said. “We felt there was a big need to create shows that were very entertaining and helped parents pass along values to their children. We had no idea that it would last 20 years. We wanted to incorporate biblical values in our shows, remind kids that God made them special and that God loves them very much.”

Nawrocki said it’s a new experience now meeting fans who watched videos as children who are now introducing their own kids to Bob and Larry. 

“It’s really neat for me to see that next generation,” he said. “We just take this responsibility very seriously and look forward to the next generation.” 

While Big Idea continues to look ahead with more DVD releases such as the upcoming Celery Night Fever and Beauty and the Beat, Nawrocki is “hopeful” to do another theatrical release one day in the vein of Jonah or The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, and he’s grateful for VeggieTales supporters for creating a lasting legacy of fun, biblical lessons. 

“Every time we tell a story, we try to tell it well to incorporate the message, wrap the story around with great music,” he said. “The passion we have for storytelling has helped us last all these years. And we’re very thankful for our fans.”

To order Veggies in Space, call Word Distribution at 800-876-WORD (9673).

Worship artists, Southern gospel’s Matthew Hagee offer new projects Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:47 PM America/New_York

Gaither Vocal Band harks back to classic hymns as two key members prepare to leave the popular group


ANewSeason-MatthewHageeA NEW SEASON, Matthew Hagee, Difference Media (Capitol Christian Distribution), 819113010222, March 18

Hagee, pastor, author and tenor in the Southern gospel group Canton Junction, releases his debut solo project, A New Season, this month. Produced by GRAMMY-nominated Michael Sykes, the project features songs co-written by Hagee along with contributions from Randy Travis, Aaron Wilburn and Matthew’s father, John Hagee.

Songs include the country-tinged first single “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted,” the worshipful classic “Sweet Spirit/He Is Here,” the down-home feel of “This Ain’t Nothin” and the tender ballad “He Still Speaks.” On “The Day He Wore My Crown,” Hagee is joined by Larry Stewart and David Innis of country group Restless Heart. 

Hagee’s popularity as a pastor should garner plenty of attention for his solo debut.


EndlessPraise-PlanetShakersENDLESS PRAISE, PlanetShakers, Integrity Music (Provident Distribution), 000768565926, March 11

Originating from the fastest-growing church in Australia, PlanetShakers is making a name in the praise and worship world. Endless Praise, the long-awaited follow up to the group’s recent project, Limitless, is available March 11. Songs include the title track, “Turn It Up,” “Dance” and “Set Me Ablaze.”

In 2014, PlanetShakers will host Awakening Conferences in Malaysia; San Diego; Melbourne (Australia); and Dallas, showcasing the songs to new audiences. 


Hymns-GaitherVocalBandHYMNS, Gaither Vocal Band, Gaither Music Group (Capitol Christian), 617884877729, March 4

The Gaither Vocal Band—comprised of Bill Gaither, David Phelps, Wes Hampton, Mark Lowry and Michael English—visits the classic songs of the church on Hymns. The group has sold more than 3 million DVDs and CDs, and the new project, the last featuring departing members English and Lowry, is poised to be a fan favorite. 

Highlights include the upbeat “Love Lifted Me,” the soaring harmonies on “Amazing Grace” and new arrangements on familiar classics. Other tracks include “God Leads Us Along,” “Coming Home,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “My Faith Still Holds” and “More Of You.”


Love-JasonGrayLOVE WILL HAVE THE FINAL WORD, Jason Gray, Centricity Music (Capitol Christian) 829619119923, March 4

Singer-songwriter Gray releases another album of thoughtfully penned tracks with Love Will Have the Final Word. Produced by Jason Ingram (Chris Tomlin, Sanctus Real, Tenth Avenue North) and Cason Cooley (Derek Webb, Andrew Peterson), the album features an acoustic pop sound.

Gray co-wrote all 11 songs with songwriters such as Ingram, Andy Gullahorn, Ben Glover, Josh Wilson and Nichole Nordeman. Tracks include “Love’s Not Done With You, “I Don’t Know How,” “If You Want To Love Someone,” “Even This Will Be Made Beautiful” and “The Best Days of My Life.”


TheArtofCelebration-RendCollectiveTHE ART OF CELEBRATION, Rend Collective, Integrity Music (Provident) 000768526620, March 18

Rend Collective’s The Art of Celebration aims to deliver joy to listeners with a new experience building on the success of past projects Campfire and Homemade Worship by Handmade People. Originating from Northern Ireland, the group blends experimental, folk and rock sounds with worshipful lyrics. 

Featuring guest vocalist Audrey Assaud, the self-produced project includes “My Lighthouse,” “More Than Conquerers,” “All That I Am,” “Simplicity” and “Immeasurably More,” co-written with Chris Tomlin.

Although there are six members of the band who record and tour, Rend Collective is comprised of a total of 15 who are there to encourage the band spiritually, musically and missionally.

Hallmark Channel series features novelist Janette Oke’s fiction Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:54 PM America/New_York

Family-friendly feature-length western from Michael Landon Jr. based on popular cable TV show

WhenCallsTheHeartWhen Calls the Heart: Lost and Found (818728010740, $19.98) comes from the new Hallmark Channel TV series When Calls the Heart, based on Janette Oke’s best-selling books and produced and directed by Michael Landon Jr. A feature-length film based on the first two episodes of the show—which debuted to more than 3 million viewers and placed second for the night on all of cable television—released to stores on DVD for home-viewing last month.

The series tells the story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to high society before receiving her first assignment in a mining town. Lori Laughlin also stars as Abigail Stanton, a newly widowed housewife who must take up coal mining in order to provide for her family. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) . He believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th-century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive on her own.

Landon has been in the film business for 25 years, earning two of the highest-rated films in Hallmark Channel history and having produced several notable releases well received in the Christian market.

Brian Bird, co-founder with Landon of Believe Pictures, serves as writer and producer of When Calls the Heart. Bird’s most recent projects include Gametime, a two-hour television pilot for NBC, the film adaptation of Beverly Lewis’ The Shunning and the T.D. Jakes-produced movie Not Easily Broken. He also was co-executive producer and writer on Touched by an Angel.

To order When Calls the Heart: Lost and Found, call Word Distribution at 800-876-WORD (9673).

Meet the Artist: Kari Jobe Print Email
Written by DeWayne Hamby   
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 04:55 PM America/New_York

Majestic-KariJobeKari Jobe’s new worship project, Majestic, was produced by Jeremy Edwardson (Jesus Culture, Kim Walker-Smith, Bethel Church) and recorded live in Jobe’s hometown of Dallas at the appropriately titled Majestic Theater. The Sparrow Records release is available March 25 from Capitol Christian Distribution.

What is your life like right now since the success of your previous release, Where I Find You (Sparrow)?   Busy. Less seeing family right now and a lot of travel, but I love it. It’s a beautiful season for the church, and God’s doing some really exciting things. I did the Chris Tomlin tour and Women of Faith tour, and to hear what God’s doing globally and people coming to church so hungry [is great]. I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing right now for the world. It’s so amazing. 

How different was the recording process for Majestic?  I’m excited because I’m a worship leader through and though. To have my own project, top to bottom, is so fun. My favorite thing is to hear people sing the songs with me. You can hear people sing these anthems and you can feel how congregational the songs are. They were hearing them for the first time that night, but they responded. I’ve been dreaming about doing this since I was young. 

Who did you collaborate with on this new Sparrow release?  Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Reuben Morgan from Hillsong, Paul Baloche. I’m excited, too, because they totally have a heart for the church, of course. 

Tell us about some of the album’s key songs.   “Forever” is the newest single. It’s such a powerful anthem that says, “Forever he is glorified, forever he is lifted high. Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated.” I think it’s a powerful declaration to be singing that out loud. I just love to hear people sing with that much authority, knowing they are getting this revelation of our resurrected King has rendered you defeated. It’s just such a cool moment to lead people in that song. “Majestic” is the whole theme of the album. Our God is majestic. We serve the King and He is fighting on our behalf. I want people to capture, to get a revelation—we serve a mighty, majestic God who loves us and is fighting for us. “Lord Over All” is just really strong. The Lord has rescued us, and He is literally the Lord over all in our lives. 

What is the name of your next tour?   I’m doing a tour called Majestic, teaming up with Rend Collective and Food for the Hungry. It will be a really strong night of worship, such a great worship experience, and it will be nice for people to have the album to back it up and take it home. At the same time, this project is going to be released as a full DVD as well.  

How do you think worship is growing today as a category?  I think it’s going to keep getting stronger and more powerful. People are connecting with worship because it changes the atmosphere. There are inspirational songs and we need those songs, but worship songs change the atmosphere. That’s my favorite thing. I love worship. I need my atmospheres to change.

Helping couples find an uncommon marriage Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:18 AM America/New_York

Former pro football coach Tony Dungy and wife Lauren share their secrets to marital bliss in new book

UncommonMarriageThrough more than 30 years of marriage, former Super Bowl-winning NFL coach Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, have experienced great joys and successes as well as tremendous setbacks and personal tragedy. 

In Uncommon Marriage: Learning About Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together, they tell their love story and share the secrets that continue to keep their marriage strong. Tyndale Momentum, an imprint of Tyndale House Publishers, releases the Dungys’ book Feb. 4.

In Uncommon Marriage (hardcover, $24.99), the Dungys partnered once again with Nathan Whitaker, who has co-authored several New York Times best-sellers, and reveal what they have learned about building and nurturing a strong, faith-filled marriage even through pain and difficulty. 

The Dungys’ life together has been filled with job changes, moves between major U.S. cities and extended times apart. They attribute their relationship’s success to the regular practice of communication and prayer. This foundation held them together in the toughest times, especially when they faced the loss of their oldest son, Jamie. 

“The pain and sorrow were indescribable,” they write, “but because of our faith in God, we were able to hold on to our foundation—communication and prayer—through a very dark time.”

They add that “an uncommon marriage isn’t a perfect one; it’s simply the union of a man and a woman who commit to staying together and to following God’s leading as He shows them how to love and serve one another a little better every day.”

Uncommon Marriage is the first in a series of marriage products, which will be followed by a devotional and a DVD curriculum. The audio edition will release simultaneously wtih the trade book.

Officials at Tyndale indicate that Dungy’s products with Tyndale Momentum have sold more than 2.5 million units. His 2007 memoir, Quiet Strength—also written with Whitaker—became one of the best-selling sports titles in history with sales topping 1.2 million copies.

Retailers also will know Tony’s New York Times best-sellers Quiet Strength, Uncommon and Mentor Leader. Lauren, who is also a New York Times best-selling author, has written several children’s books. 

While Tony is seen on NBC’s Football Night in America, Lauren is a frequent speaker, serving as vice president of the Dungy Family Foundation and as an early childhood educational specialist. The Dungys are the parents of nine children.

To order, call Tyndale at 800-323-9400 or visit

Pastor encourages ‘living incarnationally’ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Thursday, 16 January 2014 09:25 AM America/New_York

FleshWhen Hugh Halter, pastor of Adullam Church in Denver, and his wife, Cheryl, became empty-nesters, he looked forward to finally pursuing some of his dreams. Yet he was quickly swayed by Cheryl’s reminder that now they would have the time to help people even more, maximizing how they live in imitation of the life of Christ.

Halter examines this type of living in Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth (9780781409971, $14.99, David C Cook) releasing Feb. 1.

Flesh is built upon the foundation of John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (ESV). Halter points out that while Jesus came to Earth to die for our sins, he also came “to live a life” and “to model a new way to be human.”

Halter asserts that Christians come in two types. “First-decision Christians,” as he calls them, believe in Jesus as the Son of God. They may attend church, but they remain only at the level of belief. Others make a second decision to live as Jesus lived. He calls this “living incarnationally.”

In the most basic sense, living incarnationally, Halter writes, is to “invite the Holy Spirit to interrupt your day, and then ask for wisdom in how to follow.”

Living this way does not come easily, Halter admits; it must be learned and Satan will oppose such efforts. Therefore, Halter gives practical examples of trading one’s life for that of Christ. A key component is interacting with the world and being continually mission-minded. However, he cautions readers that the goal is not to appear godly, as many Pharisees in the New Testament desired. Rather, living incarnationally is “ultimately and beautifully about displaying God’s glory to the world.”

To illustrate his points, Halter uses the metaphor of a ladder with the rungs being incarnation, reputation, conversation, confrontation and transformation. He explains these in the book’s five sections.

To order, call 800-323-7543, or visit