‘Tisn’t the season . . . but it’s on sale!

Because of Bethlehem

BethlehemIt’s Christmas in July, thanks to a one-day pre-order sale from HarperCollins Christian on the newest Max Lucado holiday story, Because of Bethlehem.  The book is scheduled for release 13 September 2016, with an ebook list price of $9.99 (USD) — but readers can pre-order a copy today for only $4.99 (USD).  The hardcover edition lists at $22.99 (USD), but the current pre-order price is $16.52 (USD) at Amazon.  The ebook is also on sale from Apple today.

From the product page: This eBook includes the full text of the book plus the Max Lucado novella, An Angel’s Story. Max Lucado loves Christmas. Let the sleigh bells ring. Let the carolers sing. The more Santas the merrier. The more trees the better. He loves it because somewhere someone will ask the Christmas questions: What’s the big deal about the baby in the manger? Who was he? What does his birth have to do with me? And the answers he’s found give us all hope. God knows what it’s like to be a human. When we talk to him about deadlines or long lines or tough times, he understands. He’s been there. He’s been here. Because of Bethlehem, we have a friend in heaven. And Christmas begins what Easter celebrates. The child in the cradle became the King on the cross. Because of Bethlehem, we have a Savior in heaven. These are the heart shaping promises of Christmas. Long after the guests have left and the carolers have gone home and the lights have come down, these promises endure. Let’s turn on the lamp, curl up in a comfortable spot, and look into the odd, wonderful story of Bethlehem.  Max has found a lifetime of hope. You will too.

About the author:  Max Lucado is a best-selling inspirational author and speaker, and a minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. His award-winning books have been translated into more than 41 languages and have occupied spots on every major national bestseller list. Over the years, Lucado has been featured in countless national media outlets, dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Reader’s Digest and Christianity Today, and even named one of the most influential leaders in social media by the New York Times. His books include You Are Special, If Only I Had a Green Nose, and The Boy and the Ocean.

Bob Russell reflects after 50 years . . .

by Bob Russell, 224 pp.; Moody Publishers.
by Bob Russell, 224 pp.; Moody Publishers.

After 50 Years of Ministry: 7 Things I’d Do Differently and 7 Things I’d Do the Same by Bob Russell, 224 pp.; Moody Publishers. Pre-order price, $9.40 (USD) hardbound edition (expected release date 7 June 2016). Kindle edition
now available for $8.93 (list, $11.99, both USD).


Given a choice, I’d much rather learn from the mistakes of others than make my own – not that I always see the choice in time – so I was intrigued to learn what retired megachurch pastor Bob Russell had to say about the things he wishes he hadn’t done, as well as the things he’d do all over again, given half a chance.

The insights aren’t startling – after all, there is nothing new under the sun – but I love the plain-spoken way that Russell presents his seven “Don’ts” and his seven “Dos” because these are exactly the kind of lessons I learn best when they are spelled out for me rather than disguised beneath inventive images and lyrical language. He doesn’t pull punches, whether he’s exposing his own errors or holding up a mirror to ours, but he does write with a comforting sense of humility . . . and humor.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect:  I’ve never thought God might be calling me to any kind of ministry, and I’m much more comfortable – and accountable – in intimately small churches than those where thousands, let alone tens of thousands, congregate. For the first few minutes, I thought this would be a pretty good book for the clergy.  For the next few minutes, I thought this would also be a pretty good book for lay leaders.  Before long, I decided it is a pretty good book for Christians, no matter whether they are called to the ministry, leading as laity or sitting on a pew in the back (my favorite spot).

Clerics have reviewed the book, and they’re in the best position to tell other clergy what they’ll get out of these 14 lessons.  But, even those of us who like to sit silently in the back can, and should, get a lot out of Russell’s easy-to-read essays.  Some of us may not realize how much we could do to support our own ministers – or, worse, how much we are doing to undermine them unintentionally! Many lessons should resonate with clergy and laity alike, especially Russell’s recognition that mindless television is not the best way to wind down at the end of the day.

“The bloody violence, frequent profanity, worldly propaganda, and graphic sexuality available on television does more than entertain, it can pollute our minds, desensitize us to evil, entice us to lust, quench the Holy Spirit in our lives and dull the edge of our sword,” he writes.  And, later, “Instead of looking for something to occupy my time I’d try talking to my wife or family members.”

Who of us shouldn’t spend more time talking to our spouses, our children, our parents or even our intimate friends?

On the other hand, Russell points out that we all have some people we should spend less time talking, or listening, to – those who criticize anonymously or unjustly – and he offers some specific suggestions on how to let go of the trash these mean-spirited minority want to dump on us.  Who couldn’t benefit from a bit of advice here?

Finally, I love the organization of the book:  Russell begins with the seven things he wishes he hadn’t done, or had done less often, and he finishes on higher ground by asserting the seven things he’s truly glad he did, and wishes he’d done more often.  No matter where you are on your own spiritual path, these seven “don’ts” and seven “dos” can help you stay on that path and can encourage you as you go wherever God is leading you.

Note:  Moody Publishers gave Sis a complimentary advanced reading copy via NetGalley.  The review reflects her own and only her own opinions, and Sis believes neither the pastor nor the publisher would expect anything different.

About the Author:  At just 22 years of age, Bob Russell became pastor of Southeast Christian Church. That small congregation of 120 members grew into one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending four worship services every weekend by 2006 when Bob retired. Now through Bob Russell Ministries, Bob continues to preach at churches and conferences throughout the United States, provide guidance for church leadership, mentor other ministers and author Bible study videos for use in small groups. An accomplished author, Bob has written more than a dozen books. Bob and his wife, Judy, have two married sons, Rusty and Phil. In his leisure time he enjoys playing golf and is an avid University of Louisville football and basketball fan.

The Hiding Place, 35th anniversary edition

The Hiding Place, 35th anniversary edition by Corrie ten Boom with Elizabeth and John Sherrill

foreword by Joni Eareckson Tada

“Every experience God gives us . . . is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.” — Corrie ten Boom

One of Sis’s all-time favorite among biographies & memoirs, now in a special 35th anniversary Kindle edition. Sis hopes you didn’t miss the special sale price, but she assures you this story is worth the list price.  Hardbound and paperback editions are also available.  

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker who became a heroine of the Resistance, a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps, and one of the most remarkable evangelists of the twentieth century. In World War II she and her family risked their lives to help Jews and underground workers escape from the Nazis, and for their work they were tested in the infamous Nazi death camps. Only Corrie among her family survived to tell the story of how faith ultimately triumphs over evil.  Here is the riveting account of how Corrie and her family were able to save many of God’s chosen people. For 35 years, millions have seen that there is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still. Now The Hiding Place, repackaged for a new generation of readers, continues to declare that God’s love will overcome, heal, and restore.

Sis freely acknowledges that she has yet to know the depth of faith exhibited by either Corrie or her sister, Betjie, in either this book or in other books about their lives — but that doesn’t stop her from striving towards it. This is not only a riveting account of one family’s efforts to save Jews during World War II, but a compelling story of faith in action. Sis has read it dozens of times, as has her younger sis.  It is timeless, as important today as when it was first penned.  Or, possibly more?

Paperback Edition

Not for the slack of heart . . .

but for the soul who thirsts for God as a hart thirsts for water.
Confessions of a Prayer Slacker (2nd edition), by Diane Moody
Available as a FREE Kindle ebook or as a paperback.

I didn’t know I was a prayer slacker.  I wanted this book, which I received as a gift from a generous friend, because prayer is a big and important part of my life.  In reading it, though, I learned that, sometimes, I’m a slacker after all.

Diane Moody doesn’t pull a single punch, whether she’s confronting our excuses or her own. She examines every one you might offer to explain why you can’t pray today or why you don’t need to really, really pray, and exposes it for the lie it is. It is now just plain impossible for me to start my day without prayer — without picturing God patiently perched on the edge of a chair, a stool, or whatever bit of space might be available and waiting for me to stop busying myself with less important things. I can’t slack off without realizing just who I’m sloughing off. So, be warned — don’t read this if you’re not ready to really dedicate yourself to prayer, even if you thought you were dedicated to prayer.

If you are, however, prepared, wow! What a terrific book to teach you how to make your prayer time better than ever before. From very specific suggestions on when, where, how and what you need for your personal prayer time. Yes, what you need. Who knew I really needed a prayer journal rather than slips of paper with various prayer requests noted down? Diane Moody did. I didn’t. Now, I don’t know how I ever managed without one. Mine isn’t set up exactly like hers — I’m not exactly like her — but I learned a lot from her suggestions, and from my first few days — and weeks, months, and years — of using my own prayer journal.

I’ll give you one more warning: I now spend about twice as much time in prayer as I did before (and I wasn’t a five-minutes-and-I’m-done kind of pray-er). But, I couldn’t be happier. I find myself singing, in my head and right out loud when no one is listening, because I am so full of joy that it just has to come out some way. I’m not naturally gifted at prayer, but I am the kind of person who gets in trouble without a consistent and thorough practice of prayer. I got into far more trouble than Diane Moody ever describes without real, meaningful prayer in my life, and I need it as much as I need air, water, and nutrients. I’ve read a lot of books about prayer and about praying. This is definitely one of the best.

The tone of the book is very much one-on-one — casual, conversational, just you and the author. Or you and your conscience. It’s easy to read, and a delight to read, too. But don’t read it if you want to keep on slacking, because you will be forced to acknowledge just what you are doing and what you are denying yourself. And with knowing WHO is patiently waiting for you, when you finally do have time to talk.

Updated note:  The author has told me that she now always offers the e-book edition for free and set the paperback price at the cost-per-book of $4.89. 

About the author:  Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Diane Hale Moody is a graduate of Oklahoma State University. She lives with her husband Ken in the rolling hills just outside of Nashville. They are the proud parents of two grown and extraordinary children, Hannah and Ben.

To date, Diane has penned thirteen books with several more projects vying for her attention. She and her husband Ken, who writes as McMillian Moody, founded OBT Bookz in 2011. When she’s not reading or writing, Diane enjoys an eclectic taste in music and movies, great coffee, and the company of good friends.

Buy the paperback edition from Amazon.com
Kindle ebook at Amazon.com

Visit Diane’s website.