Christian Retailing

Philip Yancey revisits question of suffering Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 11 November 2013 10:08 AM America/New_York

Best-selling author of ‘Where Is God When It Hurts?’ offers sequel to his first book more than 30 years late

TheQuestionThatNeverGoesAwayWith book sales topping 15 million copies worldwide, Philip Yancey has written on many topics, but the question “Where is God when it hurts?” remains top of mind. That question was the title of his first book, which sold more than 1.5 million books. Now, more than 30 years later, Yancey has written its sequel.

In The Question That Never Goes Away, which Zondervan releases in January, Yancey again leads readers to find faith in the midst of pain and suggests practical ways to help those who suffer.

The author’s own experience with pain includes the loss of his father to polio when Yancey was young and a life-threatening auto accident. In 2012, Yancey addressed three groups dealing with extreme circumstances: the Japanese who had been slammed by the 2011 tsunami, Sarajevans who had endured four years of warfare and genocide, and residents of Newtown, Conn., who had experienced the slaughter of 20 first-graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As Yancey traveled to Newtown shortly after the massacre, Zondervan temporarily offered his first book as a free download. When the number of downloads passed 100,000 in a few days, Yancey saw just how much people grapple with questions about why bad things happen, so he made the subject a priority.

“We live on a fragile planet, marred by disease, floods and droughts, earthquakes, fires, wars, acts of violence, and terrorism,” he writes. “Whether catastrophic or commonplace, suffering always lurks nearby … If Christians have good news to share, some message of hope or comfort for a wounded world, it must begin here.”

Yancey says biblical authors assume we will suffer in this world ruled by Satan, and the New Testament passages on suffering focus not on the causes, but on the response. 

He points out that Christians place their hope on a time when pain and death will be overcome. Through the story of Jesus, “which includes both death and resurrection,” we can see “what God will do for the entire planet,” he writes. 

While God does not remove human freedom nor prevent evil, He does redeem for good what some intend for evil, Yancey argues. 

He also exhorts Christians to serve those who are suffering.

“If the church does its job, people don’t torment themselves wondering where God is,” he writes.

To order The Question That Never Goes Away, call 800-727-1309, or visit

Fiction File November 2013 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 09:36 AM America/New_York

garrettg_portraitASK THE AUTHOR: Greg Garrett

LATEST PROJECT: The Prodigal: A Ragamuffin Story, written with Brennan Manning (9780310339007, $15.99, Nov. 5).ProdigalFinal

PUBLISHER: Zondervan.

How would you summarize the story of The Prodigal?

The Prodigal is a contemporary retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son with megachurch pastor Jack Chisholm as our character who is cast out because of his very public indiscretions and taken in by his estranged father. Our story focuses on what happens after the parable concludes, where the hard work of living into and accepting grace and forgiveness take place. Back home in the small Texas town in which he grew up, Jack struggles to take responsibility for what he’s done to his church, his family and himself, and struggles to find a more authentic way to live and believe. Can he become someone who does what is right not because the camera is on him, but because it’s the right thing to do?

Why was it important to bring this novel into being?

This novel exists because Brennan Manning wanted to leave behind a story that exemplified the radical grace of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of the Father, Brennan’s beloved “Abba.” Beyond those most important things, the book is about how we believe, how we live and how we love and treat those who should be closest to us. It’s a book about faith—but also about the daily walk of faith.

How did you meet your co-author, the now-late Brennan Manning?

Both of us are represented by Alive Communications, and our agents “introduced” us and asked if I would consider being the novelist helping to retell the prodigal parable as Brennan’s final book.

How did your collaboration work?

Brennan and I passed things back and forth through our agents. We fleshed out the story Brennan wanted to tell, and then I took on the task of translating that blueprint into a building you could walk around in, decorated with all things Brennan. The book incorporates a lot of his teaching, and it became apparent early that we needed a surrogate Brennan in there to deliver those lines convincingly. That character turned into Father Frank.

Why did you decide to base one of the characters—Francis Xavier Malone—after your co-author?

It became clear, trying to solve the practical problem of bringing Brennan’s teachings about grace, love and forgiveness into a work of fiction that some character would have to say the things that Brennan says so beautifully in his nonfiction. That person had to be a moral center—and would need to be someone who liked to talk, so it wouldn’t seem odd for him to be delivering wisdom! Father Frank wasn’t Brennan’s idea—he was too modest for that—but was the right solution to a number of problems.

How is this novel related to The Ragamuffin Gospel?

We thought of The Prodigal as a sequel to The Ragamuffin Gospel, retelling those teachings in the form of a novel.


ECPA Fiction Top 10

1. The Secret Keeper, Beverly Lewis (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) 

2. The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn (FrontLine/Charisma House Book Group)

3. The Tattered Quilt, Wanda E. Brunstetter (Barbour Publishing)

4. Trapped, Irene Hannon (Revell/Baker Publishing Group) 

5. Secrets Over Sweet Tea, Denise Hildreth Jones (Tyndale House Publishers) 

6. The Miner’s Lady, Tracie Peterson (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group) 

7. All in Good Time, Maureen Lang (Tyndale) 

8. Wings of Glass, Gina Holmes (Tyndale) 

9. Wake the Dawn, Lauraine Snelling (FaithWords)

10. Vanished, Hannon (Revell/Baker Publishing Group)


The ECPA list is compiled from sales of Christian books in hundreds of Christian retail outlets nationwide, collected using Pubtrack Christian ( Best-sellers are for the four-week cycle ending Sept. 14, 2013. All rights reserved. © 2013 ECPA.



New Fiction in December

  • Stranger Things, Erin Healy (Thomas Nelson)
  • Tempest’s Course, Lynette Sowell (Abingdon Press)
Close Up: Mark Driscoll Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 09:28 AM America/New_York

MarkDriscollSuitLatest project: A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? (9781414389486, $19.99, Tyndale House Publishers).ACallToResurgence

You write of Christendom, civil religion and Christianity. What are the differences between them? Christendom is a cultural religion that borrows much of the narrative, moral framework and vocabulary of Christianity. … Civil religion is the institutionalized version of Christendom [in which] the government appropriates ethics to enforce quasi-Christian behavior. Everyone assumes everyone else is a Christian without ever learning what Christianity is all about. The result, as [Søren] Kierkegaard observed, is that “Christendom has done away with Christianity without being quite aware of it.” … True Christianity is a faith that must be professed, practiced and possessed: To profess faith means to confess Jesus Christ as Lord and proclaim this faith to others in hopes that they, too, will turn from sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation. To practice faith means to live a new life of worship patterned after Jesus and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to continually repent of sin, obey Scripture, fellowship with other believers, serve in love and partake in the sacraments such as Communion and baptism. To possess faith means that God has implanted the life of Jesus in you.

What leads you to believe that Christendom in America is dead? The nail in the coffin for Christendom in America was President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony, which included representatives from numerous faith traditions to witness the event, with one glaring omission. The evangelical Christian, pastor Louie Giglio, was dumped without apology. When evangelicals can’t even land a token appearance at an event orchestrated to reflect the various facets of American society, it’s clear that Christian clout has reached its expiration date and been pulled off the shelf. I’m not exactly mourning the loss of Christendom ... but Christian faith is not just losing its market share. Christendom and civil religion have confused the substance of Christian faith to the point where it is losing its salvation message. I don’t care about preserving Christendom. My concern is the gospel of Jesus Christ, humanity’s one and only hope.

What are you urging believers to do? Stand firm and stay on mission. When sins become civil rights, there is a temptation for Christians to keep our mouths shut and turn what is supposed to be a public faith into a private faith, but we are commanded to not be ashamed of the gospel. We may feel social pressure to accept the new norms, or at least approach sensitive issues in a way that attempts to make the truth palatable and socially acceptable. But the world has enough politicians; it needs more prophets. We can’t expect that we’ll be more palatable and socially acceptable than Jesus was. He was the only sinless human being who ever lived. He did nothing wrong and everything right. He articulated the gospel perfectly, obeyed God flawlessly, loved people completely and yet still died bloody. Jesus’ opponents compared him to the devil and then killed him. With all of our shortcomings and failures, we can’t expect to fare much better. … For Christians, this is our opportunity! Not our tragedy but our opportunity. Not an end but a beginning. Not the worst thing that could have happened, but the biggest opportunity we’ve been given. For what? To bear witness. We have a message of help, healing and hope: Jesus Christ is alive. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus makes life, death, suffering and persecution meaningful. … Christendom may have died, but in that death there is a real opportunity for a resurgence of biblically faithful, personally humble, evangelistically fruitful, missional Christianity. I am calling Christians to stand firm and stay on mission with Jesus: evangelize, give, serve and enjoy new life filled with the power, hope and love we have through the Holy Spirit.

Finance expert offers women ‘different kind of book’ Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 09:26 AM America/New_York

TheSmartWomansGuideToPlanningForRetirementSyndicated personal finance columnist and best-selling author Mary Hunt knows how terrified women can get when it comes to taking charge of money matters. With saving for retirement a daunting task for many in today’s economy, Hunt explains in her own accessible style what women need to know in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement: 

How to Save for Your Future Today (9780800721138, $17.99), releasing Nov. 5 from Revell (Baker Publishing Group).

By their own admission, 92% of women surveyed do not feel educated enough to reach their retirement savings goals. In her new book, Hunt serves as their teacher and guide, assuring readers that it’s only too late if they don’t start saving for retirement now.

“I think women need a different kind of book,” writes Hunt. “One without all the 

jargon, charts and mind-numbing data—one that simply and honestly cuts through the miles of complicated information and gives you just the facts and the motivation you need—in a warm and conversational way, the way we’d chat over coffee about something that is very important to both of us.”

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement is built on six strategies every woman needs to prepare for the future. Hunt shows women specifically what to do during each decade of their lives, and offers financial catch-up moves for women in each age range.

Women have an advocate in Hunt, who openly shares her own financial blunders.

“I’ve done all the hard work of making lots of mistakes,” Hunt said. “I’ve suffered my share of failures as well. Let me save you time and money.” 

Earlier in life, Hunt had to dig her family out of more than $100,000 in credit card debt, so she knows from experience the psychological and emotional struggles that come with debt. It took her 12 years to rack up the debt and 13 years to be debt-free. 

After that harrowing experience, she set out to help others live debt-free, founding DebtProof Living, an organization dedicated to helping men and woman battle the impact of consumer debt. Today, her website has thousands of members who look to her for needed financial tools and resources.

For more information on The Smart Woman’s Guide to Planning for Retirement, visit, or to order, call 800-877-2665.

Helping families move from ‘crazy cycle’ to legacy of love Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Tuesday, 08 October 2013 09:24 AM America/New_York

Emerson Eggerichs follows his best-selling marriage title with similar principles for parents and children

LoveandRespectintheFamilyPeople have been asking Emerson Eggerichs to write a book about love and respect between parents and children following the success of 2004’s Love & Respect (Thomas Nelson). However, Eggerichs wanted his own children to contribute to such a book, so he waited several years.

Striking a chord with readers, marriage title Love & Respect, sold 1.5 million copies and garnered several awards. As a counselor and pastor, Eggerichs has studied the family dynamic for 30 years. As founders of Love and Respect Ministries, he and his wife, Sarah, conduct relationship conferences across the country.

This month Thomas Nelson releases Love & Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire, the Love Children Need, which includes input from his children, now in their 30s, and his wife. Although the content is new, the approach is similar to that of his marriage book. The book’s three parts are: The Family Crazy Cycle, The Family Energizing Cycle and The Family Rewarded Cycle.

Eggerichs asserts that children need love, and parents need respect. Yet often, he writes, “an unloved child reacts negatively in a way that feels disrespectful to a parent” and “a disrespected parent reacts negatively in a way that feels unloving to the child.” To stop this Family Crazy Cycle, he teaches parents to slow down, decode the situation and diffuse the tension. 

This sets the stage for the Family Energizing Cycle in which “a parent’s love motivates a child’s respect and a child’s respect motivates a parent’s love.” Eggerichs offers an acronym for energizing the family: GUIDES—Give, Understand, Instruct, Discipline, Encourage, Supplicate.

The result can be the Family Rewarded Cycle in which parents give love regardless of the children’s respect and vice-versa. Eggerichs stresses the importance of parents leaning on God, loving children unconditionally and seeking to leave a legacy of love.

Several times in the book Eggerichs says that parenting is for adults only. 

“We must bring our maturity to bear on the daily skirmishes in the family,” he writes. “In the heat of the battle, we must remain cool, calm, and collected.” 

He is transparent about the ups and downs in his own parenting and includes his children’s honest reflections about their upbringing. He emphasizes there is no perfect family, but believes there is hope for those who want to parent God’s way. He gives special encouragement to parents with children who are rebelling, reminding them to focus on the process and trust God for the results.

For more information, contact Thomas Nelson at 800-251-4000, or visit

Fiction File October 2013 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 04:57 PM America/New_York

LynnAustinASK THE AUTHOR: Lynn Austin

ReturnToMeLATEST PROJECT: Return to Me (9780764211508, hardcover, $19.99; 9780764208980, softcover, $14.99; October), book one of “The Restoration Chronicles.”

PUBLISHER: Bethany House (Baker Publishing Group).

How can Christian retailers briefly summarize your new novel, Return to Me, for their customers?

Return to Me is the first in a three-book series based on the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. In this novel, a small group of Jewish exiles make the difficult decision to return to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild the city, their temple and their faith in God.

Why did you call your new series “The Restoration Chronicles”?

When the people of God were carried into exile in Babylon, they began to compromise with the surrounding culture until true Old Testament faith in God nearly disappeared. Ezra, Nehemiah and the other characters in this series lead a movement to restore the Jews to their promised land, to rebuild the temple of God and, most of all, to restore the people’s faith and their relationship with God.

What first drew you to the genre of historical fiction?

When I wrote my first books, the “Chronicles of the Kings” series, I discovered how much I enjoyed researching the past, seeing the challenges and choices people faced and then showing the lessons that we can learn from history. That passion has remained the same for me. 

You have written many novels since your last biblical saga, “Chronicles of the Kings.” What led you to write another series of biblical fiction?

My readers asked for it! So many people wrote to me saying that the biblical books were their favorites and that they loved the way those novels brought the Bible to life. Reading and studying Scripture is one of my greatest passions, so fulfilling my readers’ request was an easy choice to make.

What research did you conduct to write this series?

I began with the biblical texts, reading and re-reading them in several translations. Then I turned to the commentaries on this material, Christian and Jewish. I also read numerous history books and learned about the archaeological discoveries from this time period. I even took some courses on the Jewish faith at the Chicago Torah Network. But my favorite way to research was to travel to Israel and immerse myself in the country’s sights and sounds and tastes and places.

Who are the four point-of-view (POV) characters in Return to Me, and why did you select them?

I chose Iddo and his grandson, Zechariah (who prophesied during this time period), because they’re listed in Scripture as being part of the first wave of exiles to return to the land. Curiously, Zechariah’s father (Iddo’s son) isn’t mentioned, which provided me with plot ideas. The other POV characters are Iddo’s wife, Dinah, and Zechariah’s friend, Yael, whom I created to provide the women’s viewpoint of these events. Ezra and Nehemiah don’t enter the story until books two and three.

These characters examine the nature of their own relationships with God, whether they are motivated by love or fear. Can you tell us more about that?

Some of my characters witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, and they decide to return, not out of love for God, but out of fear of His wrath if they disobey. They must learn to truly know God and serve Him out of love. The same is true for the women, who initially return because they love their husbands, not because they love God.

At one point, Iddo asks his family if they are willing to obey God no matter the cost. Why did you include this question? Does it have a broader meaning for the Israelites of that day and/or for God’s people today?

It took an enormous sacrifice to obey God’s call and leave the comforts of Babylon to return to a desolate, ruined land. Obeying meant giving up many of the things that had become “idols” in their lives and stepping out in faith to trust a God they barely knew. Today, I think we have to make daily decisions to choose between God’s call and the pull of our culture. Sometimes those decisions also have a high cost.

How did the backstories you created for each character come together in such a satisfying way that is also consistent with Scripture?

I started with the story from Scripture. Once I understood the biblical events and the issues they raised, then I could create my characters and place their stories in that context. 

What other information about Return to Me might be helpful for Christian retailers to share with customers?

Return to Me is the first novel in a three-book series; the others are Keepers of the Covenant, which will feature Ezra as the main character, and On This Foundation, which will feature the story of Nehemiah.