Christian Retailing

Close Up: JEREMY COURTNEY Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 04:50 PM America/New_York

PreemptiveLoveLatest project: Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time (9781476733463, $24, Howard Books).JeremyCourtney

Preemptive Love chronicles the efforts of the Preemptive Love Coalition to help Iraqi children waiting for heart surgery. What sparked this effort? My wife and I had moved to Iraq in the middle of the war to help ease some of the pain and respond to the needs of that time. I was in the habit of taking my laptop to a hotel to do my work because the hotels often had electricity and Internet when the rest of the city did not. One day, in my usual hotel café, the “chai guy” asked me for a favor. He told me about his cousin’s daughter who was born with a huge hole in her heart and told me there was not a doctor or hospital in all of Iraq that could save her life. He asked if I could get her outside the country and arrange for her surgery. Of course, I did what any warm-blooded, right-thinking father would do: I said no. The book chronicles some of the fear and logistical mountains that played into that response, but the chai guy ultimately won me over and we tried to help this little girl. Along the way, I learned she was not the only one, that thousands—perhaps tens of thousands—of children across Iraq who were waiting in line for these life-saving heart surgeries.

Why are so many children waiting for this surgery in Iraq? There are a few things we can say definitively—and a few things that we can only name as “suspects” at this point. The U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s are the single most devastating cause of the backlog of children waiting for heart surgery and other kinds of life-changing surgeries. As a child, watching the bombing of Baghdad, I remember learning that sanctions were a humane alternative to war. I was wrong. For Iraq, sanctions were simply war by another name. When Iraq began emerging from that era in 2003, health care was a shell of what it had once been and [the number of] children with high-risk heart disease and other birth defects had piled up. By the time we arrived, there may have been tens of thousands of these kids across the country—we don’t know—but many of them simply died before they could get the treatment we provide. On top of the fact that the doctors fled the country and the hospitals were destroyed, the rate of these heart defects was actually increasing in some places. In addition to heart defects being cited as the number-one birth defect in the world, experts have also suggested malnutrition, gestational diabetes, intra-family marriage, Saddam’s chemical weapons and chemically toxic, radioactive U.S. weapons have all played a role in exacerbating the problem. The issue has become very politicized, and it has been difficult for anyone to produce solid research to substantiate or refute many of these hypotheses. I have a strong personal interest in the causes, but I refuse to stand by idly while children die for no fault of their own. We can help train Iraqis and ultimately save tens of thousands of lives across the country while the conversation about who’s to blame is sorted out.

How do you define preemptive love? Preemptive love is the opposite of preemptive war. In preemptive war, I get you before you’ve done anything to me. In preemptive love, I might love you before you can hurt me. [It can be] a soft word or a gift in the midst of violence, a disarming act of service where aggression was expected. In preemptive love, I love you before you love me. I don’t predicate all of my actions on what you’ve already demonstrated to me. I take the risk that I can increase trust and change our future together by loving first.

Who should read this book? Everyone who has relationships! ... In marriage and our wider families, in the workplace, in school and in our many voluntary associations, people continue to be the most confounding and rewarding part of our lives. Sure, the story grabs attention initially because it takes place in Iraq against a sometimes unbelievable background of fear and violence. But Iraq is not the story. My family is not the story. Readers keep turning the page because it is the story we need every day, but seldom hear—of loving the person we most disagree with, whether our closest loved one or our most feared enemy. It is not a marriage book, but it will strengthen marriages. It’s not a devotional for high schools or churches, but it will inspire youth groups to live and love differently as they head off into the world each day. And though it is different from most in its category, it could transform conversations about evangelism and the mission of the church.

Gunman’s wife recounts story of Amish forgiveness Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 04:11 PM America/New_York

The Amish will never forget the date of Oct. 2, 2006, when an armed man shot 10 girls and then killed himself in the West Nickel Mines School, a one-room schoolhouse in an Old Order Amish community in Lancaster, Pa. Five of the girls died—and the nation grieved.

Since then, many stories have been told of the Amish community’s responses, which emphasized forgiveness and reconciliation. Now, seven years later, the shooter’s wife breaks her silence and tells one story from that tragedy that has not yet been told—her own. 

OneLightStillShinesMarie Roberts Monville, with Cindy Lambert, offers her perspective in One Light Still Shines: My Life Beyond the Shadow of the Amish Schoolhouse Shooting (9780310336754, $22.99). Zondervan releases her book this month.

Monville journeyed through many dark days in the aftermath of the massacre. As she faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles and grappled with her questions, God reconstructed everything she believed about herself, her faith and Himself.

Despite the difficulty she experienced, she believes that God keeps his promises.

“In the days following the shooting, I could’ve only talked about the places of seeming defeat within my life,” she said. “God redeemed my life, breathing hope to the hopeless, healing to the broken and freedom to the captive.”

To order, call Zondervan at 800-727-1309.

Joel Osteen encourages ‘extraordinary’ living Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Wednesday, 04 September 2013 04:09 PM America/New_York

Houston pastor presents practical steps for believers who want to break out of ‘average, unrewarding’ lives


The shift is coming, says Joel Osteen, No. 1 New York Times best-selling author and pastor of Houston’s Lakewood Church. The preacher with the famous smile encourages believers who feel stuck in present circumstances by reminding them that God is about to move in a new way, causing them to accomplish more than they might have ever imagined.

“You were not created to just get by with an average, unrewarding, or unfulfilling life,” Osteen writes. Rather, each person is meant to leave a mark on the current generation, and it is time for believers to pursue dreams again—dreams of increase, favor, promotion, contracts, good ideas, improved relationships and more.

Osteen_BreakOut_HCThis, he says, is why he has written Break Out! 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life, which FaithWords releases this month.

The turn away from defeatist living begins in a person’s thinking, asserts Osteen. The keys to being breakout-minded are: believing bigger; focusing on God, not circumstances; praying bold prayers; keeping the right perspective; and not settling for anything less than the fullness of God’s plan. 

Osteen explains that as a believer puts these five keys into action, God releases floods of goodness and propels him into his predestined extraordinary life.

In regard to praying boldly, Osteen suggests reminding God of His promises in Scripture. 

“What God promised, He will do,” he writes.

“Because you have been faithful and honored God, I believe and declare, God will put you in a position you could have never gotten to on your own. … What should have taken you forty years to accomplish God will do in a split second. You’re coming into acceleration,” he writes.

However, Osteen cautions readers that the fulfillment of a dream might not happen overnight, and along the way to God saying yes, “there will be nos.” 

Many people quit too soon, but Osteen adds: “God wouldn’t have given you the dream, the promise wouldn’t have come alive, if He didn’t already have a plan to bring it to pass.”

To order Break Out!, call FaithWords at 800-759-0190.

Finding hope in Christ when times look bleak Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 05 August 2013 02:38 PM America/New_York

YoullGetThroughThisMax Lucado draws from Joseph’s pit-to-palace story to encourage believers in the midst of suffering

With 30 years of experience as a pastor, New York Times best-selling author Max Lucado has counseled countless people in the pit of trouble and despair. He has also seen what God can do for them. Still, he sometimes struggled for the right thing to say, so he turned to the story of Joseph—the focus of his fall release, You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times.

In the book, Lucado shares this reminder based on Joseph’s experiences: “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naïve. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this.”

We often fear we won’t get through our trials, Lucado says, that the struggles will never end. However, he writes, “Deliverance is to the Bible what jazz music is to Mardi Gras: bold, brassy, and everywhere.” 

He emphasizes that Joseph’s long journey through mistreatment and hardship ultimately demonstrates that what Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good, as Joseph tells his brothers in Gen. 50:20.

Through the years, Lucado has learned the essential question to ask those who are suffering: “What do you still have that you cannot lose?” He asserts that even in the darkest pit the one gift we cannot ever lose is our destiny. While problems will not last forever, he points out, we will last forever—and we are not alone. God is with us in the pit, just as He was with Joseph.

Joseph “models for us that even in the middle of tough times, you’ve got to make the right decisions,” Lucado told Christian Retailing. “Don’t make matters worse by doing something worse. Just do the next right thing and trust God to get you through it.” 

Near the end of his book, Lucado reminds readers that the most important reason we will get through our turbulent times is not because we are big or strong or good, but because Christ is our Brother, and he is for us.

 A six-session study guide and DVD are also available separately or as a bundle. For more information or to order, contact Thomas Nelson at 800-251-4000 or visit

GRAMMY winner’s memoir doesn’t whitewash hard times Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 05 August 2013 02:54 PM America/New_York

LittleBlackSheepGRAMMY- and Dove Award-winning singer-songwriter Ashley Cleveland did not want to write her memoir. The thought of writing an entire book was overwhelming, and most of all hers “is not an easy story to tell,” she admits in Little Black Sheep: A Memoir (9781434705297, $17.99), releasing this month from David C Cook.

But after attending a workshop led by author Lauren Winner and an arts conference sponsored by a literary journal, Cleveland gained confidence. Bolstered by the encouragement of publishing professionals, she committed herself to the task.

Her memoir doesn’t whitewash her journey. 

“This is the story of the groundwork that paved the way to my faith,” she writes.

Cleveland’s parents were alcoholics in an unlikely marriage; her father believed he was a homosexual, yet her parents were adamant about keeping up appearances. Eventually they divorced and Cleveland was shuttled between her mom and dad, attending many schools and a few churches. She was bullied, struggled with her weight and felt she didn’t belong anywhere.

As a young adult, Cleveland hurtled through her own drug and alcohol addiction. When her family intervened, she entered addiction treatment. Although it helped temporarily, she continued to relapse.

Today, she and husband Kenny Greenberg and their three children live in Nashville. She and Kenny were longtime friends and played together in her band. After they married, Cleveland finally succumbed to her brokenness, where true recovery could begin. 

 “I had learned in treatment that the gateway to recovery was willingness. … I needed the will to be willing, and I began to tell the Lord that if He wanted me to turn my wineglass over to Him, He needed to supply me with the will to do it,” she writes. 

When someone at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting challenged Cleveland to attend 40 meetings in 40 days, she agreed.

 “And on that ordinary day,” she writes, “I began an extraordinary chapter of my life. I began to recover.”

The book’s final pages celebrate how God began to rebuild her life and bring others hope through her experiences.

To order, call David C Cook at 800-743-2514.

Book Beat September 2013 Print Email
Written by Leslie Santamaria   
Monday, 05 August 2013 02:55 PM America/New_York

Si-CologyA collection of Si Robertson’s tall tales and quirky one-liners releases from Howard Books this month in Si-cology 1: Tales & Wisdom From Duck Dynasty’s Favorite Uncle. The brother of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, Uncle Si tells stories from his childhood, his Vietnam days and his duck-hunting exploits. He also talks about his wife and two children, who are rarely mentioned on the show, and the more than 25 marriage proposals he has received since the show began airing. Written with Mark Schlabach, the hardcover book retails for $22.99.

TheSpiritOfPythonCharisma House introduces the next book by New York Times best-selling author Jentezen Franklin this month. The Spirit of Python: Exposing Satan’s Plan to Squeeze the Life Out of You (softcover, $16.99) helps readers understand the devil’s strategies to stifle them when they should speak up and to steal the peace of knowing they belong to God. Franklin lists 10 warning signs that a person is under attack and explains specific ways to fight back and overcome. 

AllInMark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author and lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., challenges readers to fully surrender to the lordship of Christ in All In: You Are One Decision Away From a Totally Different Life (hardcover, $22.99). Releasing from Zondervan this month, All In addresses Batterson’s concern that believers often settle for complacency rather than follow Christ with passion.

TheSongOfAnnieMosesGuideposts Books releases The Song of Annie Moses: A Musical Quest, A Mother’s Gift by singer/songwriter Robin Donica Wolaver this month. Retailing for $15.98 in softcover, the book tells Wolaver’s family saga from the cotton fields in Depression-era Texas to the halls of Julliard and beyond. Wolaver and her husband raised six musicians, eventually forming the Annie Moses Band, a family band named after Wolaver’s grandmother. The book emphasizes family roots, hard work and living by biblical truth.

DangerousWritten by Caleb Bislow with Ted Kluck, Dangerous: Engaging the People and Places No One Else Will recounts Bislow’s journey from a youth pastor in the Midwest to a missionary in some of the most dangerous, forgotten places on Earth. Bislow is founder of Unusual Soldiers, which trains Christians to minister at home or abroad under adverse circumstances. His book, releasing from Bethany House this month for $14.99 (softcover), includes appendixes of organizations and prayer needs from around the world.

TheVanishingEvangelicalIn The Vanishing Evangelical: Saving the Church From Its Own Success by Restoring What Really Matters (hardcover, $19.99), the late Calvin Miller warns that evangelicalism faces a dubious future since it has largely adapted to the culture. Miller asserts that restoration begins with individuals developing a personal, vital spirituality. The author of more than 70 books, Miller served as a pastor for more than 30 years and was distinguished writer in residence at Beeson Divinity School. Baker Books (Baker Publishing Group) releases Miller’s book this month. 


Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot is a collection of true stories from Kurt W. Bubna’s trials and triumphs on his Christian journey, demonstrating God’s unconditional love and how His grace can transform imperfect lives into priceless treasures. Bubna is the founding and lead pastor of Eastpoint Church in Spokane Valley, Wash. Tyndale Momentum releases Epic Grace this month for $14.99 in softcover.

ClearWinterNightsAlso this month, Multnomah Books releases Clear Winter Nights: A Journey Into Truth, Doubt, and What Comes After (hardcover, $13.99), an apologetic using fiction techniques and Socratic dialogue to explore tenets of Christianity. Written by Trevin Wax, managing editor of The Gospel Project, a small-group curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources, Clear Winter Nights offers the story of a young man grappling with his faith when a family revelation causes him to question everything.