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Posts Tagged ‘Christian authors’

Devotions for Christian Writers

With three blogs, I receive a number of books unsolicited, but this one is probably one of the most unusual I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a book of short devotionals targeting a very specific market, but one which makes up many among our secondary readership here at Christian Book Shop Talk: Christian book and periodical writers and prospective writers.

As the Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers and Speakers by Glenda Dekkema, Melony Teague, Carol Ford, Caludio Loopstra, and Marguerite Cummings (Judson Press) was actually published in 2016. The even numbered (left side) pages feature the familiar devotional format, with scripture, article and prayer. But on the odd numbered (right side) pages, there is a journal format consisting (usually) of a question for reflection and then a writing prompt on the subject of the devotional.

As the author bios indicate, each of the authors is a member of The Word Guild, “a growing community of more than 325 Canadian writers, editors, speakers, publishers, booksellers, librarians and other interested individuals who are Christian;” best known for their annual conference and annual awards. (Additionally, all of the endorsements for the book are from Canadian Christian leaders.)

The 90 devotional articles are divided into several sections:

  • The (Writer’s) Craft,
  • Inspiration
  • Knowing Yourself
  • Well-Being
  • Personalities
  • Faithfulness

As a retailer, I’m always looking for other applications for a product, but this one has a very particular focus. That said however, the devotions are refreshingly and creatively different, but what else would you expect from some of our best authors? As the editor of C201, a daily devotional blog, I’d like to see them tackle something similar but with greater mass market appeal. I know it would be well done.

If you know a writer, a copy of this along with the current version of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide would make a very helpful gift set.

 

Remembering Norman Geisler

 

A leading voice in Christian apologetics, author Norman Geisler passed away on Monday at age 86.

Books by Geisler in Christian bookstores include: Who Made God?, Chosen But Free, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, When Skeptics Ask, Essential Doctrine Made Easy, If God Why Evil, and more. He also contributed to many other books, such as Four Views on Eternal Security and a large number of Bible reference books.

Richard Land, Executive Editor of The Christian Post wrote:

…Dr. Geisler has been the “go to” authority for more than two generations of evangelical seminary students who were looking for a bold, erudite, and uncompromisingly faithful defense of the inerrant, infallible Word of God and the historical doctrines of the Christian faith. His ministry was invaluable, and his influence incalculable…

The funeral service will be on July 6th, Saturday at 3pm in Charlotte, North Carolina according to his Facebook page notice.

Read more at Religion News Service.

 

 

Ontario Author’s Extensive Work is a Manual for People Dealing with Trauma

In a single moment, my entire life shattered before my eyes. Everything inside of me desperately wanted to scream out in order to give release to the excruciating pain. My mind was frantically scrambling, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Staring wide-eyed at my mom and with all sincerity, I concluded with, “Everything you’ve told me about God and Heaven had better be true!”

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Linda Joy.

Although she was in the store as a customer, toward the end of our time I learned about a book she had recently completed with Essence Publishing, and then we had a whole other conversation!

Journey from Redemption to Restoration: A Firsthand Account – Detailing the Faithfulness of God is probably one of the most unusual books I have ever held in my hands.  It transcends many different writing genres, making a description here challenging. It is a faith-inspiring series of personal stories of experiences that can only be described as miraculous. Miraculous in the sense of things like healing, but also in the sense of God moving in the everyday, such as repeatedly providing much needed housing just when it was needed.

In spelling out these stories however, the book serves a definite teaching function. There are times that Linda “breaks the fourth wall” and addresses readers directly, even to the point of having places in the book where readers can write their own name and the date, making their own declaration of casting their worries and anxieties on God.

This is the end product of reading these anecdotes. Linda tells of a situation where before prayer for healing, six people first gave their testimonies to help increase her faith. In a way, that’s a meta-reference to the book itself; she now does that for her readers believing her story can raise their trust and reliance on God.

In Linda Joy’s mind, the book is an anthology; she sees its writing style as similar to the Chicken Soup for the … Soul series of titles. In so doing, the personal vignettes from her life are arranged in twelve different categories. While the individual stories are concisely presented, as I skimmed the book’s 362 pages, it was impossible to read a single narrative in isolation without having to continue to the next.

She also sees the book as “a manual for trauma.” It’s the type of book that you could read sequentially, but also find yourself referring back to individual sections. I can also see this as a helpful resource for those who provide counseling to others. 

Linda Joy has chosen to live out the rest of her life in total thanksgiving to her Heavenly Father for all He has done, carefully unwrapping, thoroughly enjoying, and readily acknowledging each new day as His gift to her. She is a personal friend and intentional follower of Jesus Christ.
– from the Publisher website for Journey From Redemption.


Journey from Redemption to Restoration is published by Essence Publishing of Belleville; 362 pages; 35.00 CDN. ISBN: 978-1-4600-0869-0

Book trailer:

 

 

Remembering Jean Vanier

Best known to many of us as a one-time mentor to author Henri Nouwen, L’Arche founder Jean Vanier passed away earlier today, May 7th, at age 90. He had been in palliative care for just a few weeks at Maison Jeanne Garnier (Paris) where he died.

When he entered hospice care in April Aleteia.org noted:

…Vanier suffered a heart attack in October 2017 and has been resting since then, with periodic treatment. He has lived until recently at the small L’Arche home in Trosly-Breuil (Oise, France).

Vanier told Aleteia last September: “Today, I have no future, but I am happy in the present. At every moment.”

For decades, the work he founded has accompanied thousands of people around the world: In 2018, L’Arche in France had 4,000 members, including 1,800 disabled people and 1,150 volunteers…

His passing was noted earlier today by BBC News:

The son of a Canadian diplomat, Jean Vanier embarked upon a naval career that saw him serve during the World War Two. But in 1950 he resigned his commission saying that he wanted “to follow Jesus”.

He studied theology and philosophy, completing his doctoral studies on happiness in the ethics of Aristotle. He became a teaching professor at St Michael’s College in Toronto.

During the Christmas holidays of 1964, he visited a friend who was working as a chaplain for men with learning difficulties just outside Paris. Disturbed by conditions in which 80 men did nothing but walk around in circles, he bought a small house nearby and invited two men from the institution to join him.

L’Arche – the Ark – was born…

…In 2015, Vanier became the recipient of the Templeton Prize, an award described as “entirely deserved” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby…

…continue reading at BBC


Jean Vanier titles; note that one of his most recent titles was released by IVP (InterVarsity Press). This shows current English titles only; his books were translated into many languages, including nearly 40 titles published in French (see link below).

Product Name        
EAN/
Product Code
Supplier Pub Date U.S.
SRP
We Need Each Other: Responding to God’s Call to Live Together (English) 9781640600966
1640600965
Paraclete Press (MA) 09/18/2018 $19.99
A Cry Is Heard: My Path to Peace (English) 9781627853910
162785391X
Twenty-Third Publications 09/15/2018 $16.95
From Brokenness to Community (Wit Lectures) (English) 9780809133413
0809133415
Paulist Press 06/01/1992 $6.95
Becoming Human (-10th Anniversary) (-10th Anniversary) (-10th Anniversary) (English) 9780809145874
0809145871
Paulist Press 09/01/2008 $13.95
Jean Vanier: Essential Writings (Modern Spiritual Masters) (English) 9781570758065
1570758069
Orbis Books 09/16/2008 $16.00
Drawn Into the Mystery of Jesus Through the Gospel of John (English) 9780809142965
0809142961
Paulist Press 08/16/2004 $22.95
The Gospel of John, the Gospel of Relationship (English) 9781616368906
161636890X
Franciscan Media 04/24/2015 $15.99
Life’s Great Questions (English) 9781616369415
1616369418
Franciscan Media 08/21/2015 $16.99
Community and Growth (Rev) (English) 9780809131358
0809131358
Paulist Press 12/01/1989 $22.95
Signs: Seven Words of Hope (English) 9780809148721
0809148722
Paulist Press 10/01/2014 $14.95
Jesus, the Gift of Love (English) 9780824515935
0824515935
Crossroad Publishing Company 09/01/1996 $17.95
Made for Happiness: Discovering the Meaning of Life with Aristotle (A List) (English) 9781487002572
1487002572
A List 09/05/2017 $14.95
Encountering ‘The Other’: (English) 9780809144099
0809144093
Paulist Press 09/01/2006 $9.95
Tears of Silence (English) 9781770898349
1770898344
House of Anansi Press 11/11/2014 $19.95
Living Gently in a Violent World: The Prophetic Witness of Weakness (English) 9780830834969
0830834966
InterVarsity Press 06/01/2018 $17.00
Happiness: A Guide to a Good Life, Aristotle for the New Century (English) 9781611454970
1611454972
Arcade Publishing 07/01/2012 $14.95
Befriending the Stranger (English) 9780809146901
0809146908
Paulist Press 03/01/2010 $15.95
I Meet Jesus: He Tells Me “I Love You” (English) 9780809148356
0809148358
Paulist Press 10/02/2014 $16.95
I Walk with Jesus (English) 9780809148363
0809148366
Paulist Press 10/02/2014 $16.95

Additional out-of-print titles are listed at his article at Wikipedia.


Image above and some additional information used here was posted at a French language version of the story: Décès de Jean Vanier, fondateur de l’Arche.

Remembering Two Much-Loved Authors

This past week our bookstore community lost two very much loved authors, but very different, catering to two very different audiences: Rachel Held Evans and Warren Wiersbe. It speaks to the diversity or breadth of the constituency we serve that it includes such a broad range of writers; such a wide demographic.

Warren Wiersbe died on May 2nd at age 89. Anyone who has read the series of commentaries known informally as “The Bees” — Be Victorious (Revelation), Be Joyful (Phllippians), Be Mature (James), Be Real (1 John), Be Dynamic (Acts), etc. — knows Warren Wiersbe. (David C. Cook) There’s about 50 titles; which are also available in a two-volume hardcover set. Many of “The Bees” are also available in a study guide form — Wiersbe Bible Study Guide Series — for groups. A Wikipedia article credits him with over 150 books in total. Showing a sense of humour, his autobiography is titled Be Myself.

He worked for Youth for Christ, and pastored at Central Baptist Church in East Chicago, Indiana (1951–1957), Calvary Baptist Church in Covington, Kentucky (1961–1971), and the iconic Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois (1971–1980). He was very much involved in mentoring pastors, including a young Erwin Lutzer. He was also a much sought-after conference speaker.

He will be greatly missed. Learn more at Christianity Today and Premier (UK).

Rachel Held Evans died on May 4th at age 37, after entering a coma following treatment for flu and a subsequent infection. The outpouring of love for Rachel on social media has been enormous. Her titles included Searching for Sunday , A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask, (formerly Evolving in Monkey Town), and her newest, Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again. (Two Zondervan, two Thomas Nelson.)

The first report of problems came on her blog on April 19th. “During treatment for an infection Rachel began exhibiting unexpected symptoms. Doctors found that her brain was experiencing constant seizures. She is currently in the ICU. She is in a medically induced coma while the doctors work to determine the cause and solution.”

Updates continued until May 4th,

Rachel was slowly weaned from the coma medication. Her seizures returned but at a reduced rate. There were periods of time where she didn’t have seizures at all. Rachel did not return to an alert state during this process. The hospital team worked to diagnose the primary cause of her seizures and proactively treated for some known possible causes for which diagnostics were not immediately available due to physical limitations.

Early Thursday morning, May 2, Rachel experienced sudden and extreme changes in her vitals. The team at the hospital discovered extensive swelling of her brain and took emergency action to stabilize her. The team worked until Friday afternoon to the best of their ability to save her. This swelling event caused severe damage and ultimately was not survivable.

She leaves her husband Dan, and two children. Dan told Slate’s Ruth Graham, “She put others before herself… She shared her platform. She always remembered how others had helped her. She enjoyed seeing other people in contexts where they thrived. She didn’t hold grudges, would forget as well as forgive. She had little time for pettiness and a big heart for people. And these are all things I wish I had told her more while I still had the privilege to keep her company.”

News of her passing was carried at The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, People Magazine, and a great swell of tributes on Twitter at the hashtag #BecauseofRHE.

Read more at Slate, Health UpdatesReligion News Service, CBN News, and the GoFundMe page set up by fellow-author Sarah Bessey.

 

2018 Book Award Winning Manuscript Was Abandoned in 1995; Winning as Fiction, Story is Quite Real

On the weekend, Michael Bell, one of the writers at Internet Monk shared the story behind the just-released book In His Majesty’s Secret Service written by his younger brother, Patrick. First here’s what Michael wrote at iMonk:

A little over thirty years ago my younger brother, Patrick Bell, left on an adventure. He joined Greg, his best friend from high school, on a clandestine team smuggling bibles behind the Iron Curtain. For two years they crisscrossed Eastern Europe bringing Bibles, medicines, and food to Christians who faced persecution and even death because of their faith.

They took ten trips into Romania, where Christians were having a particularly difficult time under President Nicolae Ceaușescu. It was also very stressful for the smuggling teams. “When you hear gunfire outside your hotel and there are bullet holes in the window and blood on the carpet, you know you’re in the thick of things.” A network of informers meant that they could never be sure who they could trust.

In his downtime he started writing about what he was experiencing. He wrote in the genre of a historical fiction, with himself and Greg being portrayed as two of the main characters in the book.

His letters from their Austrian base kept us up-to-date on what he was doing. Some of his stories made it into the manuscript he was writing. Others for security reasons did not. He wrote to our family about some of the ethical issues that a Bible Smuggler faces: What do you do when asked at the border if you have Bibles? How do you hold church services when they have been banned? These very real dilemmas were addressed in his manuscript in the context of a story of high risk, betrayal, faith, prison escapes, near misses, revolution, death, and even a little romance. All was skilfully woven together in a way that put the manuscript into the “can’t put down” category.

In the late fall of 1989 we received a letter from Pat. “I’m not very hopeful for the situation in Romania”, he wrote, “there are soldiers with sub-machine guns on every corner.” Six weeks later, the revolution had been successful and Ceaușescu was arrested.. “When Ceaușescu was shown on TV, soldiers became so angry at him, they wanted to shoot the TV.” On Christmas day, 1989, Ceaușescu and his wife were led before a firing squad and executed. They had been tried before a secret tribunal and found guilty of multiple crimes against the country.

A few days later I was watching the CBS evening news. The Romanian border had just been opened with the West and CBS had a reporter on the spot interviewing the first visitors to make the trip across. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw my brother Pat, and Holly (his future wife), smiling at the cameras from inside their vehicle? “Why are you headed into Romania”, the reporter asked? “We heard there was great skiing in Romania!”, came the response. The Bibles were, as usual, still carefully concealed. I learned later that they were given a tank escort into Bucharest and he was offered a ride!

So what happened to the manuscript? In 1995, Pat and Holly moved to Japan to teach English in order to pay down school debts. The manuscript went into a box. For the twelve years they were in Japan, another year in Kenya, and nine more years in Canada, the manuscript sat in the box unseen. About a year ago Pat happened upon the box and opened it. There was the manuscript. The floppy disks on which it had been written were long gone. “We really should do something with this,” Holly said. With the help of a friend, Pat had the book scanned and converted back into readable text. Holly found a publishing contest to enter, and so Pat spent a few more weeks editing the book to get it ready to submit.

They won the contest!

At his website, Patrick writes: “…I’m a Canadian, now living in Kelowna, BC. I’m a graduate of Wheaton College (MA, Inter-cultural Studies, 1995) and Regent University (MBA, International Business, 2007)…” He adds that he “is an ambassador for Open Doors, Canada. If you want to help your persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, there are so many opportunities to get involved.”

At Word Alive, here’s a summary of the book:

Jim, Nick, and Kirsten have always had a heart for their fellow believers behind the Iron Curtain. It’s one thing to pray for their brothers and sisters in Romania, though, and another thing entirely to face hostile border guards with illegal Bibles hidden in their van. Only God can blind the eyes of those searching the vehicle so the three of them will be allowed to pass through safely.

Someone in the underground Romanian church is an informer, and the three Bible smugglers want to know who. The brutal dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the watching eyes of the secret police, and a personal vendetta being carried out by a colonel with a forty-year grudge have put them and all the believers in danger. As rumours of revolution swirl around them, Jim, Nick, and Kirsten face an impossible dilemma. If they can’t trust those who call themselves Christians, who can they trust?

At Internet Monk there’s an excerpt from the book.

Finally, at Word Alive Press, you can read the official contest announcement with winners and runners-up.

For U.S. customers, the book may be ordered by U.S. stores through Anchor Distributors.


ISBN: 9781486617548 | paperback | 224 pages | $19.99 US/CDN

 

 

 

 

The Books Francine Rivers Regrets Writing

Earlier today, an article on the Premier Christianity website in the UK an article caught my attention: 5 Christian authors who regret books they’ve written. I’m going to guess the trigger for the article was the one covered first, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. (As we reported earlier, Harris has asked for it, all its related products, and two titles which followed in its wake to be pulled from the market.)

The others were William Powell, author of The Anarchist Cookbook; Lewis Carrol, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Francine Rivers; and Frank Peretti, co-author of House.

The latter author’s writeup notes:

By the time the R-Rated US film was released, Frank says he had ‘totally separated’ himself from both the book and movie.

“I didn’t want anything to do with either one. I’d rather go for a deeper topic, and for me more meaningful rather than all the excessive violence and darkness. It gave me the creeps!”

With Francine Rivers however, the article conveniently linked to an interview with her also published this week at Premier Christianity — she’s in Wimbledon for a large Christian publishing trade show — Francine Rivers: The author of Redeeming Love reveals what drives her work.

The first article noted:

Francine refers to her pre-conversion works as being “BC” (before Christ) and has taken proactive steps to ensure they can’t be reprinted.

while the second provides some backstory:

After graduating with a degree in English and journalism she began her writing career as a reporter. It wasn’t until her in-laws lent her some romance novels that she realised her true calling was to write fiction. In the decade that followed the publication of her first novel in 1976, Francine found success in the general market through her steamy historical novels.

On a more positive note, Redeeming Love is still her favourite of all her titles, but the hardest book to write was Atonement Child. Why? You’ll need to read the article.


♦ Related: We posted this in August 2011, when Redeeming Love was celebrating its 20th anniversary:

Zombies and Exodus and Mess! Oh My!

I was not familiar with non-fiction author Danielle Strickland until this week. Fortunately, with the help of the internet, I learned that this Canadian author has written for Monarch, NavPress and IVP (a rather impressive list) and in addition to 2014’s A Beautiful Mess had two books issued in 2017, The Zombie Gospel: The Walking Dead and What it Means to Be Human, and The Ultimate Exodus: Finding Freedom from What Enslaves You.

On Twitter she calls herself an author, speaker and social justice advocate. According to the biography on her website,

Danielle Strickland is currently based in Toronto, Canada. Danielle loves Jesus and she loves people.  Her aggressive compassion has loved people firsthand in countries all over the world where she has embraced, learned, cared, evangelized, taught, and exhorted individuals and crowds to surrender to the boundless love of Jesus.

Danielle is the author of 5 books… She is host of DJStrickland Podcast, ambassador for Compassion International and stop the traffik. Co-founder of Infinitum, Amplify Peace and The Brave Campaign. Danielle is a mom of 3, wife to @stephencourt and has been affectionately called the “ambassador of fun”.

Her denominational background is Salvation Army and her husband, Stephen Court, is also a writer who has done three books about the organization’s history, and prolific SA blogger.

In July of last year she released The Ultimate Exodus. A page at NavPress explains the title:

God didn’t just say to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” He also said to the Israelites—and He says to us—“Let go of what enslaves you, and follow me to freedom.”

The Ultimate Exodus opens our eyes to the things that enslave us, and it sets us on the path of our own exodus. Danielle Strickland revisits the story of the Exodus to see what we can learn from a people who were slaves and who learned from God what it means to be free. We discover as we go that deliverance goes much deeper than our circumstances. God uproots us from the things we have become slaves to, and He takes us on a long walk to the freedom He created us to enjoy.     (ISBN 978-1-63146-647-2)

A page at IVP describers her unauthorized look at a hit television show, released in October:

What can zombies teach us about the gospel?

The hit show The Walking Dead is set in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by mindless zombies. The characters have one goal: survive at all costs. At first glance there doesn’t seem to be much the show can teach us about God or ourselves. Or is there?

Author and speaker Danielle Strickland didn’t expect to be drawn to a show about zombies, but she was surprised by the spiritual themes the show considers. In The Zombie Gospel she explores the ways that The Walking Dead can help us think about survival, community, consumerism, social justice, and the resurrection life of Jesus. After all, in the gospel God raises up a new humanity—a humanity resuscitated and reanimated by the new life of the Holy Spirit.   (978-0-8308-4389-3)

Update (April 28): I just heard Danielle give the first of three weekend sermons at Willow Creek (willowcreek.tv) and she is a most powerful, gifted speaker. I hope you get an opportunity to hear her.

 

 

 

 

Stores Need Digital Marketing Materials

Today was a newsletter day. With Mail Chimp, I can watch as customers open the emails and click on things. They love publisher videos (book trailers) and they like it when we include bold, professional graphics promoting new books.

And we can’t get enough of them.

But I’ve said that before.

The latest trend, if you haven’t noticed, is that publishers, instead of producing Facebook-ready and Twitter-ready graphics with a cover of the book and a link to the author website have migrated toward quote cards. Haven’t heard of them? They’re basically quotes set against a photographic or textured image that are totally made for Instagram.

You can add images to Twitter.

You can add images to Facebook.

But Instagram exists solely for pictures.

It’s nice that at least they’re quotations from books — we are in the business of reading still, last time I checked — but Instagram, like spellcheck, auto-correct, Tumblr, 140-character limits, and the erosion of attention spans known as YouTube is simply another contributor to the whole loss of language we’re experiencing right now.

We’re moving from literacy to orality.

So many bloggers have just given up using their ten fingers on a keyboard and are simply making podcasts. Less work. Less attention to editing. Less quality, if you don’t mind me saying so.

We’re moving from words to pictures.

And the pictures are not worth 1,000 words, either.

Reading separates us from the animals. It’s what makes us distinct. And we’re losing it…

…Back to my original theme. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you also can’t envision it with nothing but a quote card. This is not a good move. The social media/IT/communications/publicity people have got Instagram on the brain and they’ve forgotten their true purpose: To show people books coming to market.

 

Christian Publishing Companies Took an Enormous Loss on Family Christian Closing

In a presumably recent article dated “June 10th, 2017” World Magazine recounts the end of the Family Christian Bookstores closing in this article:

The news earlier this year that Family Christian Stores would close its more than 240 retail shops startled many of its customers. But it didn’t surprise anyone familiar with the company’s recent history. Despite receiving forgiveness for more than $80 million in debt two years ago, the company still couldn’t pay all of its bills.

The article later goes on to say:

Family Christian lost about $16.6 million over about 17 months during the bankruptcy, according to court documents.

That’s a million per month. The story continues:

In February Family Christian representatives called both Baker and Tyndale publishing groups. Lewis said they asked Baker Publishing for more time to pay invoices and for a 15 percent price discount, and Baker said yes.

But others, including Tyndale, had gone as far as they could to help the struggling retailer. “They asked us for humongous increases in the discount at which we were selling to them, and we just said, no, we’ve already given you our best deal,” Tyndale CEO Mark Taylor said…

…“This is the second time in three years that we’ve taken a big hit in bad debts because of Family,” Taylor said. (He declined to name the dollar amount of Tyndale’s loss.) Lewis said Baker Publishing expected to lose between $350,000 and $400,000.

Basically, Christian publishers bailed out Family not once, but twice.

Furthermore, the article doesn’t mention that many of those same publishers — in 2016, the year in-between the two crises at Family — took similar losses on the closing of Send the Light Distribution. Nor does it mention the many write-offs which a part of everyday commerce in dealing with individual bookstores that have closed in the Amazon era.

In this writer’s opinion, those losses might be represented by authors who were never signed, books that were never fully marketed, and development of new projects that were possibly curtailed. It’s entirely possible that publishing company staff were let go in belt-tightening at these various companies.

It’s a big loss for us all.

Review • The Listening Day: Meditations on the Way – Volume 1 by Paul J. Pastor

Have you ever wanted to talk back to your devotional book? I imagine myself saying, ‘That’s easy for you to write; you don’t know my situation.’ Perhaps I’ve already done that a few times. Finally, there’s a devotional book that gets that. Anticipates that. Even provides that.

The Listening Day (Zeal Books, 2017) is a collection of 91 page-per-day readings by Oregon’s Paul J. Pastor (yes, real name) who is also the author of The Face of The Deep, which we reviewed here. At first look, the book appears to follow the format of several popular titles in the same genre, where the words on the page appear as a direct message to the reader from God. Consider Francis Roberts’ Come Away My Beloved, Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters, Sheri Rose Shepherd’s His Princess series, and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and Jesus Always.

This format has been controversial. I would not presume to say, ‘Thus says the Lord’ unless I were certain that I had heard from God in the first place, and so I have what I consider a righteous skepticism toward books which run with this format. I’ve read the criticisms, most of which were directed at a highly successful title by an author who was and still is generally unknown. For many, the format is reminiscent of God Calling by A.J. Russell which is often used in conjunction with the AA program and has been criticized for the process by which it in particular was written, something called ‘automatic writing.’ 

Those situations don’t apply here. The author is well known to readers of Christianity Today, his first book was published by David C. Cook, and I’ve listened to him teach at his home church in Portland, where he is a deacon responsible for spiritual formation.  The publisher of this work is Zeal Books, founded recently by Don Jacobson, the former owner and President of Multnomah Publishing.

So we can trust the source; but there’s two additional reasons why this book is different.

First, although each page begins with two well-paired key scripture verses for the day, there are many scripture passages alluded to and embedded in most of the daily writings. The book is thoroughly anchored in Biblical texts. I didn’t encounter anything where I thought, ‘God would not have said that.’ Rather, with my discernment radar set to its maximum setting, I felt the plausibility of God saying such things — especially to me personally — was quite high.

Second, there was the aforementioned interactive factor. This was, in one sense, a dramatic encounter with God. The interjections on the part of the reader — typed out on behalf of you and me — were the things I would say. This book got very personal very quickly. With further honesty, sometimes the interruptions were followed by apparent silence on God’s part. Been there, too.

The introduction came with an admonishment not to try to binge-read the entire book, but rather to take one reading per day. Good advice, but impossible for a reviewer who has to read every word of every page before composing a review. Slowing down to 15 entries per day over 6 days, I asked myself, ‘What if this were the only thing I had time for in the morning as I started my day?’ I think it would be a most appropriate beginning because the dialogue format is a reminder of God’s presence from the moment I awake, and this is critical in a world where many Christians are spiritually defeated between the bed and the breakfast table. 

A note about the “Volume One” in the title: Without giving away too much at this point, I’m assured that there is more to come. Stay tuned.

Climb the tree of life–
the branches are wide and strong enough for all.
Reach from beauty,
stretching to understanding,
pulling up on wisdom
until you come into sight of the place where I hang,
beyond words, above the healing leaves, high above the kingdom.
There you will know me, just as you are known,
at the crown and light of the listening day.


The Listening Day is available to Canadian retail stores from Word Alive / Anchor

We ran an excerpt of one of the readings a few days ago at Christianity 201.

 

Karen Kingsbury Receives Honorary Doctorate from Liberty U

On Friday, May 12th as part of the Baccalaureate Ceremony, an honorary Doctor of Letters degree was conferred on Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury by Liberty University in Virginia, the school founded by Jerry Falwell. (See this link for a 45-second video) This degree, according to Wikipedia, “in some countries, may be considered to be beyond the Ph.D. and equal to the Doctor of Science.”

Karen is an Adjunct Professor at the school, and four of her five sons are Liberty alumni. For the full introduction by David Nasser and acceptance by Karen to the school and graduating class, go to 31:31 in the video below and watch to 37:20.

Liberty News reported that at the same ceremony:

Five individuals received honorary doctorates during the service. Wallace and Eleanor Turnbull were presented with honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees for their missional work in Haiti and their many years of work with Haitian Liberty students through the Turnbull Foundation. New York Times best-selling author Karen Kingsbury received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree not only for her prolific works, which have been adapted for television and film, but for how she has impacted the Liberty student body as a parent of Liberty students and as an adjunct professor, teaching master classes on English, writing, publishing, and research. Campus pastor and Senior Vice President of Spiritual Development David Nasser received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree and was recognized for his years of successful ministry and for leading Liberty’s student body in missions and service. [James] Robison was also presented an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.