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The Word is Out in New Brunswick

Tuesday marked the opening of The Word is Out Bookstore in Rothesay, New Brunswick, a town with a population of approx. 12,000 which serves as a northeast suburb of St. John. In addition to familiar merchandise, the store features locally produced giftware from Wee Miracles by Design. Owner Wanda Richard has created a spacious environment with high ceilings and attractive displays. The store is located in a retail strip mall at 83 Hampton Road.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Heroes

by Aaron Wilkinson

to read this at Aaron’s blog, Voice of One Whispering, click this link.

I had never been one to have heroes, or “idols/role models/etc.” My classmates in school would admire celebrities or athletes but I never really got that. I recognized good traits in the grownups around me and I would feel appreciation and respect but never anything like awe.

Such remained the case until last summer. I had just graduated university and I stumbled into the world of apologetics and I quickly discovered Nabeel Qureshi.

Nabeel’s powerful testimony was a bestseller and his personality and academic prowess strongly impressed upon me. I watched his debates and lectures, always admiring how he could be so firm and passionate in the truth and yet respectful and irenic at the same time (and the world of Christian apologetics can be rather deprived of irenic personalities.)

There’s a scene in The Hobbit where Balin, upon seeing the heroism of Thorin, says “There is one who I could follow. There is one I could call king.” My impression wasn’t quite that strong but I think I now know where Balin was coming from.

I felt rather insecure for a while. Perhaps I had put the man on a pedestal. Basically I felt as though I could never be content with myself until I had reached his level. There was a jealous corner of my heart that thought “I just have to be like him.” Specifically, just as smart as him.

Then, after only a few months of getting to know his work, he was diagnosed with advanced stage stomach cancer and given a grim prognosis. He vlogged his experience over the next year and his physical conditioned worsened. Then on the 16th of September, 2017 he passed away. Obviously this is to be taken seriously and his and his family’s experience of all this is what matters most, but I hope the reader won’t mind if I share my own experience of this.

In a year, Nabeel went from being someone I new nothing about, to being the person I admired the most ever, to being dead. So what happens to a man of such reserved admiration as myself when his hero suffers like this?

In my case, he only admires him more but that admiration changes. The hevel (the word in Ecclesiastes that is translated ‘vanity’ or ‘meaninglessness’) of health and academic achievement blow away and we see what really matters – a soul that loves God. Doctorates are hard but loving God is accessible enough a concept, I think. We also see a spirit that hopes and trusts in the midst of suffering which is a far more important (and more practical) lesson than anything taught in the halls of academia.

I wonder how Jesus’ followers must have felt the day after his crucifixion, having seen the great man they had followed and in whom they’d hope die.

As for my own experience, I now get how how unabashed childlike admiration for a person can transform you. I was drawn to Nabeel for his knowledge of books and histories and theologies, but he taught me (and I hope all of us) a greater lesson: He showed us what it looks like to love and hope in Our Father.

As for my envy over academic accolades, I now feel that disquietness lifted. While his mind was impressive, it is for his heart that I will remember him as being great. Perhaps that is the more effective apologetic. As the church does, remembering great writings from her history such as the letters of Clement or the 95 Theses of Luther, I hope we also remember Nabeel’s Vlog 43, his last public words to the world, as a pattern of conduct for how we are to share our faith.

If you allow yourself to admire a person you might just get hurt. You might just agonize over their suffering. But the strength of God is made perfect in the weakness of man and I cannot at all reflect on the life of Nabeel Qureshi without seeing the love and the power of God behind it all. The Spirit of God has not left us. And He just as might shine through us as well.

Choose your heroes well. I know I did.

Categories: Uncategorized

Author, Speaker, Apologist Nabeel Qureshi (1983-2017)

On Saturday, this world lost a key Christian apologist. CBN News reported,

Ex-Muslim turned Christian apologist, Nabeel Qureshi, passed away Saturday after a year-long battle with stomach cancer.

The 34-year-old left behind a wife and two-year-old daughter.

The very man who led Nabeel to Christ, David Wood, announced his death on Twitter saying, “My beloved bother Nabeel, rest in peace and joy with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.”

…Qureshi made the official announcement of his cancer diagnosis August 2016.

“This is an announcement that I never expected to make, but God in his infinite and sovereign wisdom has chosen me for this refining, and I pray he will be glorified through my body and my spirit. My family and I have received the news that I had advanced stomach cancer and the prognosis is quite grim,” he said in a Facebook post.

Nabeel Qureshi was the author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, Answering Jihad, and No God But One (Zondervan) and was a sought-after speaker and radio talk show guest.

In a thorough, lengthy, well-written tribute by Justin Taylor at The Gospel Coalition which I recommend you read if you didn’t know of Nabeel, this is but a small excerpt detailing his journey to Christianity:

In August of 2001, while a student at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Nabeel observed fellow student David Wood reading the Bible in his free time. Nabeel regularly read the Qur’an, but it struck him as odd to see a Christian reading the Bible on his own.

Nabeel challenged David’s belief in Christianity, beginning with the charge that the Bible had been corrupted over time. Wood aspired to be a Christian apologist, and the two young men formed a friendship and engaged in debate that lasted for several years.

In working through David’s arguments and examining the evidence for himself, Nabeel eventually became convinced of the general reliability of the New Testament.

He next raised the objection that Jesus never claimed to be God. After being shown this was untrue, Nabeel challenged David that Jesus had never died on the cross. Again, by being willing to investigate the evidence, Nabeel changed his mind.

It was now two and a half years later, and Nabeel raised the greatest stumbling block for accepting Christianity: how could one man die for another man’s sins? And how could the one true God be a Trinity? He was now reading the Bible and considering Christ’s claims for himself.

In return, David began to challenge Nabeel’s confidence in the claims of Islam. Intellectually, Nabeel held to Islam for several subjective reasons (like the kind of life it produced), but objectively, the central claim was that Islam was true because Muhammad was a true prophet of God. But after studying primary sources and biographies, Nabeel eventually concluded that he could not reasonably hold to the idea that Muhammad is the greatest of prophets and history’s most perfect man.

From December of 2004 to April of 2005, Nabeel experienced three vivid dreams that strongly suggested to him that Christianity was true and that Christ should be followed.

Later that year, he traveled to Washington D.C., Canada, and England to search out knowledgeable Muslims who could answer the arguments against Islam that he had encountered. “I heard various replies running the gamut from terribly unconvincing to fairly innovative, and I encountered people that ranged from sincere to condescendingly caustic. At the end of my research, the arguments for and against Islam still hung in the balance, but one thing was abundantly clear: they were far from approaching the strength of the case for Christianity.” continue reading at TGC

Nabeel was a longtime friend of the ministry of Ravi Zacharias, and Ravi personally as well. This was posted yesterday at the RZIM website:

…September 16, our dear brother in Christ Nabeel Qureshi went to be with the Lord following a year-long battle with cancer. We received this news with deep sadness and yet profound hope that he is finally and fully healed in the presence of his Savior.

Please join the RZIM team in praying for Nabeel’s wife, Michelle, and his daughter, Ayah, as well as for his parents and extended family. We know this is Nabeel’s gain, but a tremendous loss for all those who loved him and were impacted by his life and testimony on earth.

We are reminded today of what Ravi Zacharias wrote after seeing Nabeel back in May for what would be the last time in this life. To Nabeel he wrote,

You will be freed to the joy of life where there are no more fears, no more tears, no more hate, no more bloodshed, because you will be with the One who has already shed his blood for you, where love is supreme, grace abounds, and the consummate joy is of the soul. The smile of God awaits you: ‘Well done.’

‘Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love him,’ 1 Corinthians 2:9 promises.

Your eyes will now see and your hands will now touch that which is the only Real estate.”

We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support shown to Nabeel and his family over these past several months, and we ask that you continue in prayer in the days ahead. May God bring comfort as we cling to our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.

Tributes continue to pour in on Twitter. A GoFundMe campaign started four months ago will now continue to provide support for Nabeel’s wife and daughter.

Categories: Uncategorized

Christian Book Title Shortage Continues

These two are releasing in November and December from Thomas Nelson and FaithWords respectively. I’m sure they’re good, but if you stock The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, you’ve already got this subject covered.

Categories: Uncategorized

Fresh Fiche Weekly

For some of you, this is like a picture of an old friend. If you’re new to the business, you’re thinking, ‘What the heck is this?’

If you’ve been around Christian bookselling for awhile; time to gather the younguns around the screen — already halfway to recreating the experience — and unravel the story of using a fiche reader to look up products for customers.

The Spring Arbor microfiche arrived in the mail weekly. As I remember it, Title (sets; usually 3 – 5 sheets) was weekly, Author was every other week, Music and Video were monthly, and I had a long wait for Category coming once every quarter. Actually, the Category sheets were one of my favorites.

Believe it or not, a small store like ours didn’t think we needed that data with great immediacy. So we shared a subscription with another store. They got them first and mailed them to us. Then we took our set and sent it off to one of our other stores. (We were a chain of three stores at the time, and libraries were always selling off fiche readers cheap.)

The ability to search online made the fiche redundant, as the ability to order online made the Spring Arbor Telxon unit redundant. But we’ll save that one for another day, since the kids probably won’t believe we placed a suction cup on our phone to place orders.

 

Church Staff Decide Library Not Worth Keeping

While touring a church on a recent vacation day, I was taken to this church library where I simply had to take a picture. I love books and am a product of the power of Christian resources.

In Evangelical parlance, the phrase “the colour of the carpet” is used as a euphemism for other superficial issues which can serve as a distraction to true worship and fellowship. It functions in the place of a myriad of other topics which can be divisive in the life of a Christian congregation.

I’ve always sworn I would never be a “colour of the carpet” type of person. Some things are worth making a fuss over, and others should be consigned to the periphery of church concerns.

And then it happened.

At some point over the course of the summer they removed the church library where I worship and gave the contents to a local thrift store.

And I find myself seething.

So in order to justify myself, I have to be convinced that this is more than superficial; this is not about the colour of the carpeting. Here’s why I am so strongly persuaded.

This was someone’s ministry in the church. This was a ministry that someone had poured their heart into for the better part of a decade, receiving an annual budgetary commitment, but little else in the way of enthusiasm. The person was away for six weeks visiting family in another part of the country. They did receive an email warning of what was to come, but little could be done at a distance of thousands of miles. This person deserved some opportunity for closure even if it was one last opportunity to view the boxed-up collection. I list this factor first because as a family, we experienced grieving the loss of a ministry, more than once, at the hands of this same church, and so we identify strongly with this particular aspect of the closure.

The library showed the value the capital-C Church has placed on writings throughout history. Though many weeks less than a dozen resources went out, its presence in the church was iconic in the truest sense of that word. It contained resources for parents, books on basic doctrine and Christian theology, chronicles of the history of the denomination. There were Bibles, videos, CDs, and a host of teaching materials instructive for children.

Donations kept the collection fresh. The people, myself included, who donated resources for this were invested in this particular type of ministry. Some books had been given just weeks before the whole thing was eradicated.

Stewardship was squandered. Because of my vocational role in the community at the local bookstore, I know that several hundred dollars worth of books had been purchased only this year. (But only a few hundred dollars. I have no significant conflict of interest here. My reaction is that of a bibliophile.)

The resources belonged to the congregation. People should have been told about the closure weeks ahead, and had the opportunity to take books of interest and make them part of their home library. They belonged to the people of the church, not the church staff.

They could have helped another church that wanted to have this ministry in their church building. This is a denomination that keeps talking about ‘church planting’ and ‘daughter churches’ and being a ‘network of churches,’ but I doubt any were offered the contents of this already-carefully curated collection. Some would be saddened to know what they missed out on.

They could have sent the resources overseas. Again, as a missionary-minded denomination the idea that the collection wasn’t considered to send to pastors and workers who were unable to take their libraries with them to Third World countries is equally perplexing. On a personal level, as an area volunteer for Christian Salvage Mission, I know the organization would have embraced this acquisition with open arms and heartfelt gratitude on behalf of North American pastors and English-speaking indigenous workers in Africa and Asia. Instead, I wasn’t given the slightest inkling that this was in the works.

They kept two racks of fiction. This was the most disturbing thing of all; what was kept. These shelves are now located in the church’s new café and someone noted that some were books with exceptionally loud colors on the spines. If you were going to keep fiction, these were some of the worst choices. In other words, these books are props. They are being used solely for decorative purposes, to create atmosphere.

They may be deluded that electronic media has replaced books. This church recently signed a contract with Right Now Media, giving church people free access to a large grouping of video content. This is fraught with issues. Video teaching is not the same as learning off the printed page, nor is long-term absorption of the material as great. Older people in the church won’t bother to sign up for Right Now or figure out how it works. The mix of authors and teachers with online content is totally different than those who work solely in print. The library would have complemented the other service. Now they’ll never know if that would have happened.

The space will not see a higher purpose. Looking at that empty room, I wanted to be optimistic; I wanted to say, “Prove to me that what you’re about to do in this space is better than what you had.” It absolutely won’t happen.

The church bylaws are flawed. Major expenditures require approval in a congregational meeting, but the jettison of a major church asset requires no such approval. Given the number of now out-of-print titles that were displayed alongside more recent titles, I’d put the value of what was effectively trashed at at least $20,000 — books aren’t cheap — and that’s an informed opinion of someone working in the publishing industry. So you need to call a vote to acquire larger things, but you’re free to simply give away previously-acquired larger things? No. Not a good idea. For churches or families. Churches operate on the basis of consensus.

The library was doomed for at least a year. I kept forwarding PowerPoint slides along the lines of “Be sure to visit the church library…” to be used in the on-screen announcement crawl before the service, but never saw them used. Now I know why…

…Honestly, I’m not sure where I’m going to church this Sunday. I have real issues with this. I’ve become what the church staff may say is a “colour of the carpet” curmudgeon.

I don’t care. It was plain wrong. The stakeholders weren’t consulted. A horrible decision.

Now there’s no turning back.


“The acquisition of Christian books is necessary for those who can use them. The mere sight of these books renders us less inclined to sin and incites us to believe more firmly in righteousness.”

– Epiphanius (4th Century)

Some Shelves Have Higher Stock Turns

Right now our student devotional shelf is busier than normal. September is the start of a new year for those still in school, and a great time to begin a devotional regimen.

But when I say, “shelf,” it’s really about half of one shelf. If it’s that busy — now, at Christmas and at the start of the calendar year — I should expand it, right?

Not really. Bottom line: There are only a few titles that we feel strongly about recommending and those are flagged “minimum inventory only” because that publisher’s distributor offers us nothing in terms of special offers, or extra discounts for buying non-returnable. (16 years of buying completely non-returnable, to be exact.) So we bring them in one or two at a time, and while others are stocked in greater depth, there just aren’t that many titles in this particular category. (Since we’re getting the same discount anyway, we could apply for return authorization, but the protocol isn’t user-friendly; there are simply too many hoops to jump through.)…

…Expanding shelf capacity for a category that just doesn’t have too many available titles isn’t wise. We do better to use those shelves to promote new products, or items offering better margins. Customers will find our little half-shelf, and we’ll enjoy the higher rate of stock turns in that category during the three times yearly it applies.

Categories: Uncategorized

What the CBA Bestsellers List Looks Like When You Edit Out Some Categories

This is from the list from the Christian Bookseller’s Association’s July bestsellers list, the last one posted online; it’s what you get when you eliminate:

  • all the iterations of Jesus Calling (highest individual rank #5)
  • all the iteration of The Standard Lesson Commentary
  • all the various adult coloring books (Update: turns out there were none in the top 40)
  • various children’s titles
  • two fiction titles
  • a package of tracts

Titles showing in the image above are unrelated.

Their ranking is placed after each entry in brackets.

  1. Goliath Must Fall – Louie Giglio (1)
  2. Without Rival – Lisa Bevere (2)
  3. Driven by Eternity – John Bevere (4)
  4. Jesus Always – Sarah Young (8)
  5. The Comeback – Louie Giglio (10)
  6. Boundaries – Henry Cloud (14)
  7. Uninvited – Lisa TerKeurst (15)
  8. The Circle Maker – Mark Batterson (17)
  9. Swipe Right – Levi Lusko (20)
  10. No More Faking Fine – Ester Fleece (23)
  11. Steve McQueen – Greg Laurie (24)
  12. The 5 Love Languages – Gary Chapman (25)
  13. When God Doesn’t Fix It – Laura Story (26)
  14. The Mystery – Lacey Sturm (27)
  15. Good or God – John Bevere (28)
  16. The Little Things – Andy Andrews (29)
  17. Simple Pursuit – Passion (31)
  18. Purpose Driven Life – Rick Warren (33)
  19. Magnolia Story – Chip and Joanne Gaines (34)
  20. How’s Your Soul – Judah Smith (36)

The Steve McQueen book is a bit of a curiosity which we mentioned here previously on the link list. Louis Giglio has three titles (two written by him, plus he wrote the intro to the Passion book) and two of the titles (13 and 14) are by Christian musicians. The dominance of John and Lisa Bevere in the list shows charismatic titles are still a driving force in Christian sales. Boundaries, Purpose Driven Life and 5 Love Languages show the enduring strength of those titles after many years. It’s also good to see new writer Levi Lusko doing so sell; I went to his church’s website and listened to a sermon two weeks ago.

Make Sure You Have the Right Author

Seeing this book by Sheila Walsh — but not that Sheila Walsh* — on sale at our local library yesterday reminded me of the time we thought we’d scored something significant when a number of titles by Joel Rosenberg appeared in a remainder list; only to realize on arrival that it was a different author and we couldn’t expect to sell what we had purchased. Fortunately the quantity was limited. In the case of Rosenberg, he uses the middle initial “C” but in the case of the author pictured, there is no disambiguation.

Buyers need to be careful; especially in the remainder market, but also in general. The book shown was only $1, but I decided to pass.

*the author of the book pictured, Sheila Frances Walsh, were she still alive, would probably beg to differ, no doubt saying, “I am that Sheila Walsh.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Abingdon to Destroy Entire Print Run of Devotional by Clinton Pastor

This story by Joseph Hartropp appeared yesterday at ChristianToday.com in the UK and summarizes various other reports.

…United Methodist minister Rev Bill Shillady is the author of Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, a collection of devotionals he had written to Clinton from April 2015 to December 2016.

In August, just before the book’s release, CNN revealed that in one devotional entry Shillady had copied paragraphs of material from a blog post by Rev Matthew Deuel.

Shillady then apologised for not giving Deuel the due credit, in what he said was an unwitting error, and Deuel agreed not to pursue any public prosecution. But the book’s publisher Abingdon Press has now announced that it is pulling the book from publication and pulping any remaining copies after it discovered further evidence of plagiarism beyond that found in August, according to CNN.

Brian Milford, the president and publisher of The United Methodist Publishing House, which owns Abingdon Press, said that after an ‘extensive review’ the publisher was ‘alarmed to discover other content unattributed by the author.’

He added: ‘Abingdon Press has zero tolerance for plagiarism. Consequently, we have discontinued sales, will remove existing copies from all sales outlets, and will have them destroyed along with our existing inventory.’ The publisher didn’t share who the other plagiarised authors were.

In a statement on Tuesday Shillady said he deeply regretted his actions. ‘I was wrong and there is no excuse for it,’ he said…

continue reading at ChristianToday

Publisher’s Weekly (PW) reported that sales of the book have not exactly been brisk:

Strong for a Moment Like This has sold about 3,000 copies since its Aug. 15 publication, according to NPD BookScan…

In a July 26th PW article, there were higher hopes for the title:

“Based on the response we’ve already received, we’re looking at a second print run,” said [Abingdon executive director, marketing and sales Tamara] Crabtree, who declined to reveal the initial print run. “This is a strong book telling the story of the 2016 presidential campaign through the lens of faith.”

At 11:00 PM last night, Christian Book Distributors (CBD) was still selling the eBook. 

Hillary Clinton’s own book is due out on Tuesday.

Randy Alcorn Defends the Entire Adult Colouring Book Genre

With his own addition to the genre releasing yesterday, Randy Alcorn began a somewhat lengthy blog post with the question he’s been asked, “You write biblical and theological books, and encourage good stewardship of time and money. Why would you succumb to the superficial trend of coloring books?”

He then responds to the various types of responses he’s received:

  • They are childlike, and we are to put away childish things.
  • They are a waste of time, and we are to redeem the time.
  • They are trendy, and we must never be trendy.

and proposes additional positive aspects:

  • They can be done to God’s glory.
  • God values creativity. Practicing it now can be a foretaste of the creativity that will be unleashed on the New Earth.
  • It’s inexpensive, and you won’t end up wasting much money even if you don’t continue.

Read the full article at Eternal Perspective Ministries blog.

Picturing Heaven: 40 Hope-Filled Devotions with Coloring Pages is now available from Tyndale at $14.99 US (FDI in Canada).


image: EPM Blog

 

Crown Video Cuts Roster, Cuts Prices and Relocates to Nashville

A company with roots in Canada and well-known to our Canadian readers announced a shakeup today which takes effect tomorrow. In a press release from the company earlier today they announced:

Effective September 6th, Crown’s DVD/Blu-ray catalog of nearly 100 titles will be pared down to less than 40 best-selling titles offered in packaged media. About half the remaining titles will see reductions in Suggested Retail Price. Additionally, Crown will vacate its current warehouse and office space . . . moving its distribution from Franklin to a north Nashville facility. Crown CEO Brad Mix sums up: “The DVD format’s decline is accelerating, while digital sales, rentals and licensing continue to grow. We’re adapting to changes in the way people consume video entertainment.”
 Crown’s forte has been comedy:
Crown’s entire catalog of established faith-based comics Ken Davis, Mark Gungor, Michael Jr, Bob Smiley, Leland Klassen, Anita Renfroe, Nazareth, Kenn Kington, John Branyan–as well as new stand-ups Marty Simpson, Clayburn Cox, John Crist and Jonnie W–is being transcoded and re-packaged for digital sales and licensing (not to mention broadcast). Earlier this year 36 Crown titles began showing on America’s biggest faith-based subscription service, Pureflix. Additional licensing deals for new platforms are presently being negotiated.
 Learn more at CrownEntertainment.us

 

Related: Crown’s second-ever feature-length comedy, Can I Get a Witness Protection releases today.