Christian Retailing

Worship leader finds power in gaze on Christ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 09:58 AM America/New_York

LookAndLiveRecording artist and worship leader Matt Papa was once busy full-time, doing the work of God—going on mission trips, leading Bible studies and the like—and yet he was depressed, driven by the need for approval and addicted to pornography.

Then he gained a deeper understanding of the glory of God and everything changed.

Papa explains his transformation in Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ (9780764212512, $15.99). His goal for the book, which releases this month from Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group, is to “revive a glory-hungry giant and then point it to its proper and necessary Object. To point it away from the empty wells that cannot satisfy and toward the Fountain of infinite Satisfaction.”

Papa’s change did not come through working or striving. Nor did it happen overnight. In a three-year period, he changed by setting his gaze on Christ and starting each day lingering over God’s Word, praying and meditating.

“Beauty began coming into view,” he writes. “I began to feel something I had never felt before. A satisfaction, an incomparable thrill, and a displacing of all lesser ones.”
Papa begins his book by defining glory and worship. Everyone is a worshipper, he asserts. He calls worship “the truest condition of our souls,” and even says, “We are worship machines.”

The problem, he adds, is that we often worship things that cannot withstand the weight of our worship.

“The triune God is the only thing large enough and interesting enough to bear the weight of glory, and ultimately worship,” he writes.

Papa uses the phrase “cultural A.D.D.,” saying that because we have a wealth of information and options at our fingertips, focusing is difficult. Yet he calls readers to rise to the task.

“The most important thing for you to do is to fight to get a real vision of God,” he writes.

Now a minister at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, Papa says that although the fight continues, he is living in victory.

“Make your life one unflinching gaze at the glory of God,” he writes. “This is the only addiction that can finally set you free. Look and live!”

To order or learn more, visit Baker’s website at

Famed couple shares their unusual love story Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 09:28 AM America/New_York

Life Without Limbs founder Nick Vujicic and wife Kanae offer observations on marriage in new book

LoveWithoutLimitsNick Vujicic was born without arms or legs, and although he says his life is not easy, through his faith and family’s love he lives a vibrant, joy-filled life. Beginning his career as a motivational speaker at age 19, Vujicic has spoken worldwide about overcoming adversity and living with faith and hope. His reach is far, with many of his YouTube videos garnering millions of views and sales of his books reaching over 1 million in 30 languages.

Vujicic, a New York Times best-selling author, directs the nonprofit organization Life Without Limbs and wrote a number of books, including Unstoppable, Stand Strong and Life Without Limits. Yet despite his well-known optimism, he wondered if he would ever find a wife.

In Love Without Limits, releasing this month from WaterBrook Press, Vujicic and his wife, Kanae, tell their love story.

The two met at a speaking engagement in 2012 and were immediately attracted to each other. However, they compare their start to a romantic comedy, with now-humorous misunderstandings and language barriers.

Theirs is a multicultural tale. Vujicic is Serbian-Australian; Kanae is Japanese-Mexican. That their paths crossed is amazing in itself, considering that they grew up on different continents and lived 9,000 miles apart when they met.

Early on, they also dealt with their own hesitations and the skepticism of others. Loved ones wondered how Nick’s daily care needs would affect their relationship. Nick had doubts about his “fitness as both a husband and father,” he writes.

Kanae added that she brought challenges to the mix as well.

“I’d had my own ups and downs in relationships, and I had a little baggage because my parents had divorced when I was very young.

But they kept Christ at the center of their courtship and married in 2013 with the blessing of both of their families. Their son, Kiyoshi, was born one day after their first anniversary.

“What a gift the love of another person is,” Nick writes. “And the love of a child is beyond priceless.”

As newlyweds, the Vujicics acknowledge they are on their own journey to building a lasting relationship, and they don’t claim to be experts.

“This book is meant to share our love story with you and also to offer what we have observed and learned so far,” the pair writes.

Intermingled with the narrative is advice on searching for love, wedding planning and keeping a marriage strong. Lists woven into the chapters include, “Nick and Kanae’s Five Rookie Tips to Working at Marriage” and the “Ten Point Survival Guide for the First Year of Life With a Child.”

To order, visit the publisher’s website,

FICTION FILE [ ASK THE AUTHOR ] Ted Dekker Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 05:22 PM America/New_York

Dekker-TedLatest project: A.D. 30 (9781599954189, $25, Oct. 28).

Center Street (Hachette Book Group).

What is the premise of A.D. 30?

A.D. 30 is the story of an outsider, a Bedouin woman from the Arabian Desert named Maviah, who has been devastated by tragedy and thrust into an impossible situation. When all hope is lost at the midpoint of this epic, she encounters an enigmatic teacher and worker of wonders named Yeshua—a man who speaks of things too wonderful, and dangerous, to believe. His Way of being in the world turns life on end and promises staggering power in the face of the storms that rise to crush us all.

How is this book different from your previous novels?

This is the first novel I’ve written that’s rooted deeply in history. Where “The Circle” series retold our redemptive story in a fantasy world, the A.D. trilogy engages that same story of transformation as it was, on the ground. It’s also the first time I’ve written about our redemptive journey in a non-allegorical way. Over the past several months, my publisher, Center Street, has put the book into the hands of hundreds of Christian retailers, pastors and church leaders across the country. One thread of conversation runs through nearly all of our interactions with them, and it’s that many are experiencing Yeshua again for the first time.

In what ways is A.D. 30 similar to your other work?

All of my novels are born out of an obsession to discover the truth for myself—the truth about our Father, His love for us and the truth about who I am in Him. It’s been said that life is a never-ending cycle of remembering and forgetting. My novels are a way for me to explore that cycle, experience what it’s like through the eyes of a character, going to the deepest depths and rising again reborn.

What inspired you to write A.D. 30?

Though I grew up in the church, I rarely saw or experienced the staggering power to live with power and love those who abused me, as He promised I would. I wanted to encounter Him in His story and engage His teachings—perhaps I was missing something. What I found was spectacular; the effects on my own life cannot be overstated. I wrote this novel to discover the treasure, the pearl of great price, the Way of Yeshua for this life that He claimed we would find. It’s why I call it, “The Forgotten Way of Yeshua.”

How do you describe Maviah?

Like all of us, Maviah is an outsider to the Jewish context. She’s experienced deep pain and loss that’s scarred her, and she lives in a culture that views women as little more than property. Though a strong woman to the core, she lives in a perpetual state of fear and cannot fathom true love. The teachings of Yeshua, and more, His presence, radically challenge her view of herself. His news seems too good to be true, and His Way promises great power in this life. Maviah’s story is our own; it belongs to all of us. Who hasn’t felt deep shame or cut off from ourselves and others? Like Maviah, we long to love effortlessly and cast aside fear in the face of the storm, though it seems so impossible those storms rise.

What is one of your favorite scenes?

So many, naturally, or I wouldn’t have written them. The first kiss. The hilarious encounter with Arim. The death of Brutus. The first encounter with Yeshua, halfway through the book. To see Him is to be in awe. The encounter on the lake haunts me still in the best of ways. The climax in Petra, while tens of thousands look on—may we all follow the Way of Yeshua.

What research did you conduct to write this novel?

AD30I’ve never researched a novel to the extent I did A.D. 30. I have stacks of books and notes from conversations with scholars. I also retained one of the world’s leading authorities on first-century Arabia to act as a resource and editorial sounding board for every aspect of the story. As I was writing it, I remembered why I’ve stayed away from historical fiction for so long. To do it well requires a tremendous amount of effort and attention to details, however obscure they may be.

What is one thing you hope readers gain from reading A.D. 30?

I want them to encounter Yeshua again for the first time. There is a significant amount of cultural baggage that comes with being a 21st-century Western believer in Jesus. We all know the doctrines about Jesus. We think we believe in the name of Jesus, and we know all of the right teachings and statements of faith. But knowing about isn’t the same as knowing Him or to believe in him. It takes two to know, to be intimate. The gift that fiction gives us is the ability to actually experience what is otherwise only teaching. My hope for A.D. 30 is that readers will experience Yeshua in a way that they never have or have long forgotten.

What additional information would help Christian retailers when talking with customers about A.D. 30?

This is a story about a woman, for women as well as for men. This is a story about our Master who has shown us the Way to live in the kingdom of heaven now among us and within us, not only that which is to come. It’s a sweeping epic with war and betrayal and romance that gently leads us away from our insecurities and fears and introduces us to the Way of Yeshua, which so many of us have forgotten.

close up Max Lucado Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 05:19 PM America/New_York

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 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 05:18 PM America/New_York



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.


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.


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.


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, a multicampus church and creator of the YouVersion Bible app.


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.


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.”


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.


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 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 02 September 2014 05:07 PM America/New_York

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