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  • Get Lost from Dannah Gresh

    Posted on March 27, 2014 by Family Christian

    Dannah

    God. Guys. And the Great Mix-Up.

    This is a book about God…
    …and guys…
    …and how we get them mixed up.

    Oh, do we ever.

    It shows up in the little things: picking the short skirt, racing to update a relationship status on Facebook, filling a journal with guy-talk instead of God-talk, texting under the pillow at night, jumping from guy to guy, taking the “walk of shame”…again, or bailing on friends when a guy calls. As you think about similar choices in your own life and what they suggest about the priorities of your heart, you may have an intuition that I’m right. Your spirit gets it, if your mind does not.

    I’m certain that a part of you desperately wants to get lost in God’s love. At least some small piece of us always seems to be aware that we are wired to seek God’s heart and to let Him touch our own. But it’s so difficult. After all, the love of a guy is so stinkin’ tangible. You can see a guy. Smell a guy. Touch a guy. Hug a guy. Text a guy. Get gifts from a guy. And they are everywhere! There are more than 139 million men in the United States alone. No wonder we get distracted from seeking God’s love! I certainly have been prone to reach for the tangible love of a guy rather than the ultimate love of God. As I look back on one particular scene from my sophomore year in college, I see it as a classic example of my own mixed-up thinking.

    “I’ll meet you in the yearbook office in one hour,” I confirmed to Russ before I hung up the phone. Russ was my yearbook editor at Cedarville University, and after two years of hard work, I was in line for his position the following year. On top of being a great résumé builder, the job came with a hefty scholarship. If my boss needed me, I’d
    be there!

    Since I wouldn’t have time to hit the cafeteria, I turned on my electric kettle to boil water for some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fast. I was pouring neon-orange powder over buttered macaroni noodles when my phone rang again. Before I could get out a hello I heard, “Dannah Barker, say you’ll marry me. But if you can’t, then at least break it to me gently by saying you’ll go to Wittenberg with me to study.”

    Bob Gresh!

    This guy, whom I’d been dating for a while, always kept me laughing.

    “Yes!” I giggled. “When?”

    “I’ll be right over,” he said. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Bob was the definition of spontaneity.

    “Umm,” I hesitated, thinking about the commitment I’d just made to go help Russ. And I really did want that job next year. Should I risk it?

    “We’ll run through Lee’s on the way for some chicken,” he promised.

    “Well…okay,” I said, dumping my noodles into the trash can. “Let’s go!”

    For a brief moment, I considered calling Russ to cancel, but I wasn’t sure what to tell him. The truth: This great guy just proposed marriage or a date at the Wittenberg library, and I chose the latter when I’m really shamelessly going for the first option! Or the other truth: I’m a complete dolt, risking what I’ve worked two years to achieve in that
    yearbook office all because I’m incapable of saying anything but “yes” or “oh, yes!” to this guy because I crave him night and day. Either way I’d sound like a complete loser.

    So I didn’t call Russ. I needed to think of a good excuse first. (Read: I was planning to tell a really good lie.)

    I gathered my books, met Bob in front of my dorm, and jumped into his white sports car, casting aside my integrity.

    God in all His sovereignty made sure I’d run into Russ’s best friend at the Wittenberg library. Russ was forgiving, but I’d have given almost anything (except my boyfriend, of course) to have not seen the disappointment register in his eyes when the truth unfolded.

    There was no denying the truth.

    I was guy-crazy with no ambition to be God-crazy.

    That impulsive decision—along with so many others—was driven by a deep-rooted reality: I had confused my longing for God’s love with my longing for a guy’s love. All because of the Craving.

    The Violent Craving.

    You have it. Your friends have it. Your mom had it. Your grandma had it. Your greatgrandma had it. It’s been around awhile.

    Countless generations of woman have experienced it.

    The Craving is a part of the Curse, which means it dates all the way back to Eve. After she and Adam sinned, God showed up to explain that things would never be the same. To Eve, He talked about the Craving. Genesis 3:16b reads, Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

    The word “desire” is critical here. Two respected theologians once said that the Hebrew language used in this verse evokes a “desire bordering upon disease.” They also said that the desire might best be called a “violent craving.” In the original language of the Bible, God used some pretty expressive wording to describe what women would experience in relation to men after the Fall. Simply put, we hunger for them. The Craving makes us all insatiably hungry for the attention of a guy, but each of us experiences this desire in a slightly different way.

    I asked college-aged women who follow my blog to share how the Violent Craving has shown up in their lives. Here’s a sampling of their responses:

    I have felt the Violent Craving expressed as jealousy toward my peers that have boyfriends. How foolish I felt, to feel jealous instead of happy, when a friend started dating a guy I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO DATE.

    Elementary school to high school, I didn’t get the attention I wanted. I was the chunky monkey that everyone went to for a good laugh. It wasn’t until I got to be around 16 I got the attention from guys, and it got the best of me and took one of the most valuable things from me—my virginity. I lost it to a friend who liked my sister and respected her, but thought I would be the easier choice. And he was right.

    My main regret would be that I haven’t spent my time enjoying my singleness.

    There used to be a boy that I cared for very much. He was godly Christian, extremely polite, and we communicated through e-mail almost daily. My deep longing to be desired and pursued blinded my eyes from the warning signs that he wasn’t everything he claimed to be. A year or two after I met him, he ended up having sex with my younger sister on the couch in our living room.

    I went to a secular university and was involved in a campus ministry. One of the most popular sayings among the girls was “ring by spring.” To say there was a Violent Craving toward the idea of having a husband is an understatement.… I was the only single girl in the apartment. I allowed myself to be ruled by a Violent Craving for a husband.

    My Craving started at the age of twelve when my dad passed away. I longed for a man to notice me. I wanted that attention. I dressed to attract men and wanted a man’s approval.

    They shared countless such stories, each expressing a sense of “eureka” at finally having a diagnosis for their symptoms! Of all the voices who offered examples of how they express, deny, loathe, live in, and ache from the Craving, it was a sweet seventeenyear-old girl whose experience mostly clearly described the effects of the Genesis 3:16 curse. She wrote,

    I’m seventeen, raised by a very liberal mother and an extremely conservative father. That marriage didn’t work out. It ended when I was seven. Since then, I’ve always been very angry about marriage and cynical of love, due to its causing much pain, loneliness, and anxiety in my life. I swore I’d never marry. But even with all that confusion and anger, I still desperately wanted to be noticed and passionately loved by a man. I wanted someone to see and know me. The first guy I had any real relationship with, I clung to for four years, desperate for his attention and love. During those four years, I made many mistakes. I gave him everything I could physically and emotionally just to keep him around (except the actual act of sex). He was a need. A necessity. But why? I hated marriage yet wanted a man.

    She “hated marriage yet wanted a man.” I believe that’s the modern-day aftermath of the Fall. The consequence of original sin—and all the ways women have rebelled since then against God’s design—results in both a hatred of God-designed marriage and an insatiable longing for the presence of a guy. (The Craving may not cause you to actually hate marriage, but you may hate God’s specific design and purpose for it. A lot of us struggle with that!) I believe that every daughter of Eve is burdened by both a Craving for a husband and a rebellion against God’s design for marriage. What a mess!


    Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh Copyright © 2013 by Dannah Gresh. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Praying for Your Future Husband from Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer

    Posted on March 26, 2014 by Family Christian

    An Extraordinary Mystery

    Robin:
    Sometimes, when an idea just won’t go away, you need to pay attention to how God is nudging you. That’s what happened with this book.

    Tricia and I have been friends for almost two decades, and both of us are writers. But our life stories as well as our love stories are radically different. Beyond writing, we do have one interesting commonality: both of us prayed for our future husbands when we were teens. But how did that add up to our writing a book together? Three incidents convinced us we should…

    The first moment of inspiration fell on me with a weighty sense of urgency one bright November afternoon. I was in Brazil, standing in front of three hundred teen girls in a school cafeteria. My Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen novels for teens have been translated into Portuguese, and the teachers at this school use the books as part of their curriculum. That meant all the girls had read the books. When my husband and I entered the cafeteria, the girls greeted us with a wave of screams as if we were the real Christy and Todd all grown up and visiting them in Brazil.

    To quiet down the screaming girls, I asked the translator to invite them to ask questions. One of the girls raised her hand and popped up from her seat. In Portuguese she asked me what she and her friends should do since the boys in Brazil weren’t reading my books.

    “What do you mean?” I asked.

    She spoke passionately as the translator beside me explained.

    “She says that, after reading your books, she and her friends are making good decisions. They’ve given their lives to Christ and now want to stay pure and save themselves for their future husbands. But, you see, the boys of Brazil are not reading these books. They are not making these same decisions. She wants to know what can be done about that.”

    My heart pounded. Every face in that cafeteria was fixed on me, waiting for an answer. The young woman had just identified a global problem for our present generation of Christian women. I had heard this frustration voiced many times in letters and e-mails I had received from readers over the years. But no one had ever asked me what could be done to change this dilemma of an unbalanced ratio between God-honoring young women and their male contemporaries who were slow to seek God. What could I tell her?

    The words that came out of my heart were, “You can start praying for your future husband now.”

    The translator gave her my answer, and a reverent hush fell over the room. Before me was a troop of willing but untrained young women ready to enter the warzone to fight for the young men. But how?

    I wished then that I had something more to offer those girls. It’s one thing to tell them to pray and another thing to come alongside and show them what that looks like. If only, I thought, a book existed. I wished one of my nonfiction writer friends would hurry up and write it. None of them seemed to have a passion for such a book.

    The second defining moment came two years later. Tricia and I were at a writers’ retreat in California. During the afternoon break, we headed out to the pool. I settled in a lounge chair and wrote notes in my journal for a novel I was working on. Tricia succumbed to the luxurious autumn sunshine and floated off into a deep sleep.

    Suddenly she woke up, turned to me, and said, “What?” as if I’d been talking to her while she slept.

    I looked at her and spoke an unpremeditated thought. “Tricia, we need to write a book together.”

    “Okay.” She didn’t even blink before sinking back into her afternoon lull. A moment later her head rose again. “What are we supposed to write about?”

    “I have no idea.”

    The gentle notion flitted past me as softly as it had fallen on Tricia. We caught the little inspiration the way an artist would reach for a floating feather or a child would bend to pick up a pale blue pebble and tuck it in a pocket.

    Over the next year or so we periodically pulled the small inspiration out of our pockets and talked about what we should write. We had lots of ideas, as all creative people do. But the affirmation and direction wasn’t there. So we waited, and we prayed…

    The third moment of inspiration came with such defining clarity we knew what the book was to be about.

    Tricia and I were in Montana, preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. The night before the retreat we sneaked off to a lodge for some last-minute planning. I entered the lodge first while Tricia parked the car in the snow. A darling little strawberry blond toddler trotted over to me, put up his arms, and allowed me to scoop him up. His surprised young mom told me his name was Toby, he was eighteen months old, and he was usually not that friendly with strangers. Toby patted my face.

    Tricia entered, and Toby’s mother froze. She stared at Tricia and in a shaking voice said, “It’s you! You’re the one who spoke at the luncheon two years ago.”

    Tricia spoke often at events for teenage girls and women in Montana, so I doubted she would remember this particular young woman from a luncheon two years ago. The mom said, “Do you remember that you talked about being a teen mom and that you prayed God would send you a Christian husband?”

    Tricia nodded.

    “I did the same thing. I prayed and…” She leaned in closer. “I don’t know if you remember my telling you this after the luncheon, but I had just found out I was pregnant.”

    I remember,” Tricia said.

    “I was scheduled for an abortion just a few days later.” The young woman gazed at Toby cuddled up in my arms. “But after I heard your story and what you said about how God answered your prayers, I cancelled the appointment for the abortion, and I prayed for a husband, just like you did.”

    Her smile widened, and tears formed in her eyes as she told Tricia, “I always wanted to see you again so I could tell you that God answered my prayers. He brought an amazing Christian guy into my life. He loves me, and he loves my son. We’ve been married for almost a year. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t heard your story and did what you said…”

    By then we were all hugging and crying and hugging some more. Toby climbed into Tricia’s arms and received her cuddles and kisses. We couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful moment. The room seemed full of light and hope.

    After Toby and his mama went their way, Tricia and I sat together in stunned silence. We both knew this was it—this
    was the theme of the book we needed to write together: praying for your future husband. We also knew we were the two unlikely novelists being invited to pour our hearts into this project. And so we did.

    As we wrote, what tumbled from our hearts surprised us. We didn’t compose a handbook on techniques or formula for
    effective prayer. Through the ages many wonderful such books have been written. Instead, what we saw forming, as we met together to pray and write, was a book anchored with true stories about what happens when women pray for their future husbands and the ways God answers those prayers.

    Both of us agreed to tell our own stories on these pages. This took some courage. Dozens of other women gave us permission to tell portions of their stories as well—how they prayed, how God chose to answer, and how their lives changed in the process. This took courage for them as well. We pulled from our Bibles and journals favorite scriptures and excerpts. These quotes worked perfectly to lace the chapters together.

    As the book took shape, we discovered that prayer is an extraordinary mystery.

    This sacred privilege of communicating with our Heavenly Father is more than a cozy, open invitation to come to Him
    anytime, anywhere. Even though His ears are open to the cries of His children 24/7, prayer is more than that. Prayer is also an act of obedience. We are exhorted to pray for others and to pray without ceasing.

    Neither Tricia nor I pretend to have prayer all figured out. What we do know is that God hears. He sees. He knows us. He cares more than we can ever comprehend. And most important of all, God answers prayer.

    Perhaps you’ve noticed that oftentimes the way God answers prayers isn’t what we expect. We look back years later and see that what God did was oh so much better than what we first envisioned when we sent our heartfelt requests heavenward. He created us, and He desires the best for us. God always gives His best to those who leave the outcomes with Him.

    Another, even more amazing mystery is that when we pray for someone else, we change. All of us were made both to give love and to receive love. When your heart connects through prayer to the One who is the source of true love, you’ll find that praying for your future husband will wondrously result in your heart being changed. And when your heart is changed, your life is transformed.

    What sort of changes will God bring about in the life of your future husband as a result of your praying for him now?
    We don’t know.

    As you pray for him, what sort of changes will God initiate in your heart? We don’t know that either.

    But we do know there’s only one way to find out…


    Excerpted from Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2011 by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • Fearless from Eric Blehm

    Posted on March 25, 2014 by Family Christian

    Eric

    Author’s Note

    Adam Brown’s civilian and military life has been recounted to me by his family, friends, and teammates—all eyewitnesses to each event portrayed in this book, including what Adam told them directly about his history and spiritual testimony. I also used official documents, statements, military records and reports, criminal records, family archives, letters, e-mails, and journal and diary entries. Some dates, locations, times, distances, and names (including those of some civilians) have been changed; faces in photographs obscured; and military tactics, techniques, and procedures altered in order to maintain operational security for the safety of the U.S. Navy SEALs
    and those who work alongside them.

    All information about the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEALs, and individuals (including the use of real names) has already been published widely by the media and is deemed common knowledge. Nearly a dozen active-duty SEAL operators—including those in leadership roles—have unofficially, but no less meticulously, reviewed this manuscript for factuality and to point out any issues that might endanger lives in future operations. I have removed or rewritten sections to their approval, and in the few cases of discrepancy among the operators, I went with
    the majority. Any vagueness in the manuscript is intentional, to protect these men and their allies.

    All quotes, slang, inner thoughts, dialogue, and descriptions have been conveyed to me by those intimately involved in the story to the best of their ability and individual memories. Nothing has been contrived, dramatized, or fabricated.
    What you are about to read is the account of an American hero who bravely gave permission in his final written requests to share his journey, from small-town America to the gutter to jail to Jesus to war to the top tier of the U.S. military: SEAL Team SIX.


    Excerpted from Fearless by Eric Blehm Copyright © 2012 by Eric Blehm. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • BookBites - Vol. 1

    Posted on March 25, 2014 by Catherine Rivers

    Craving a new read? You’ve come to the right place. We love books. And we love sharing our thoughts on them. Welcome to Bookbites, where we give the latest books a grade, brief review and include an excerpt—a “bookbite”—that grabbed our attention.

    Happy reading!



    UNGLUED:  Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions

    Lysa Terkeurst

    Grade A+ --- A re-reader, even better the second time.  Perfect cover, fits the topic like a...crazy lady with a purse on her head.  A+ for the cover alone but the inside grabs you too.

    Appeals to all women, especially Moms, who've had their moments of becoming unglued and want a new plan to deal with it.

    Bookbite:  "Feelings are indicators, not dictators, child.  They can indicate where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn't mean they have the right to dictate your behavior and boss you around.  You are more than the sum total of your feelings and perfectly capable of that little gift from Jesus called self-control!"

    BECOMING MYSELF:  Embracing God's Dream of You

    Stasi Eldredge

    Grade B --- Interesting, journalistic, somewhat too personal to author's experience.

    Appeals to women with similar life issues such as weight, abuse, approval, fear.

    Bookbite:  "Becoming ourselves requires standing against the current--the demands, the expectations, the assault of daily realities, and our own histories.  We cannot afford to indulge in our inner diatribes any longer.  To become true ourselves will require that we speak the truth in love, even to ourselves."

    SWITCH ON YOUR BRAIN:  The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health

    Dr. Caroline Leaf

    Grade C --- Author makes a valiant attempt to explain in layman's terms the complexities of the brain God created and the science behind how we can change our life by how we think, however the book lacks real life examples for application.

    Appeals to fans of TV shows like "Brain Games" and "Dr. Oz".

    Bookbite:   "When you think you change...Brain scans show that parts of the brain activated by action are the same parts of the brain activated by simply thinking about an action."

  • What's New in the World of Books & Music?

    Posted on March 25, 2014 by Family Christian

    Majestic by Kari Jobe REMIXD by Capital Kings More Like a Lion by Michael Boggs Help by Erica Campbell Take This Cup by Bodie & Brock Thoene

  • Echoes of Mercy from Kim Vogel Sawyer

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Kim

    Late September 1904—Lincoln, Nebraska
    Caroline

    Caroline Lang slapped the thick packet of meticulously handwritten notes onto the center of Noble’s leather desk blotter and then flopped into the nearest chair. The spindled legs slid on the glossy oak floor, raising a high-pitched complaint. Instead of apologizing for the scratches her carelessness had surely created—Noble was the most persnickety perfectionist she’d ever known—she said, “There you are. A completed report on accommodations for the sugar beet harvesters. I earned my week’s leave with that one.” She grimaced at her purple-stained fingertips. “If I never see another beet, it will be too soon.”

    Noble had the gall to chuckle. “Oh, now, Caroline, you didn’t like beets before I sent you to Omaha. You’ve always said they stink when they’re cooking.”

    “They do.” She nodded emphatically, causing several escaping tendrils from her simple bun to bounce on her shoulders. “And they don’t have to be cooked to stink. You ought to smell them when they’re just sitting in a bin in
    the sun.” Wearily she pushed to her feet. “I intend to spend my week of leave sleeping. You know where to find me if you have any questions about the report, but I’m sure you’ll find it concise. I was trained by the best, after all.” She
    aimed a fond grin at her friend and mentor.

    Noble set the leather-bound packet aside without peeking in it. “You know I trust you, Caroline.”

    His simple comment warmed her, and she gave him another smile as she turned toward the door.

    “And since I trust you…”

    Something in his tone stilled her hand, which hovered midway to the polished brass doorknob. She glanced over her shoulder and caught him stroking his beard, his familiar sign of worry. She returned to the chair, seating herself
    carefully this time. “What is it?” Fear struck, making her mouth go dry. “Has something happened to Annamarie?” She prayed Noble’s sweet, frail wife hadn’t met with harm while she’d been away on an assignment. She loved Annamarie almost as much as Noble did.

    “Annamarie is fine.”

    Relief slumped Caroline’s shoulders. “Oh, thank heaven…”

    “But, unfortunately, I lost an investigator.” Noble’s face pinched into creases of sorrow. “A fine man—Harmon Bratcher. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.”

    “Oh no…” As an investigator for the Labor Commission, Caroline knew they could meet danger. Sometimes entering workplaces to openly explore, other times posing as workers to observe the business practices on the sly, their presence was rarely welcomed and occasionally threatened. Even the required travel held various hazards. Each time she set out, Noble prayed over her for her safety. She depended on him and Annamarie praying her through the investigations. So far she’d always come back unscathed. Tired, yes, but unscathed.

    Her heart ached for poor Mr. Bratcher, for his family, and for Noble, who felt accountable for his agents.

    Caroline rounded the desk and bent down to wrap her arms around Noble’s shoulders and press her cheek to his. His thick white beard tickled her jaw, but she didn’t pull away. He needed the comfort, and she needed to offer it. He patted her wrists in a silent thank-you. “It has been difficult, I confess. I considered him a good friend.”

    Although Caroline couldn’t claim Bratcher as a friend, she’d met him and admired his strong stance on changing the laws concerning the age of workers in the United States. The coalition to end child labor had lost a strong proponent
    with his untimely passing. She shifted to perch on the edge of Noble’s desk, leaving one hand on his broad shoulder in a gesture of comfort. “What happened?”

    “According to the ruling from law enforcement officials, he broke his neck when he fell into an elevator shaft.”

    Such a horrific way to end one’s life. But mixed with the horror, she experienced a niggle of wariness. “You don’t believe the ruling, do you?”

    Noble pinned her with a steady look. “I suppose it could be true. Accidents happen, especially in factories. But the week before he fell, I received a telegram from Harmon saying he intended to sneak into the factory on Sunday—the
    only day no workers were on duty—to retrieve questionable bookkeeping records he’d glimpsed the week before. But he died before he could submit any other information. There were no documents on his body. So I can only surmise
    he fell into the shaft before he laid claim to the records, or—”

    “Or someone took them from him,” she finished.

    Noble nodded somberly. He caught her hand. “Caroline, I know you just returned from an investigation. You’re tired and have rightfully earned your week of rest. But there’s an opening at the factory where Harmon died.”

    Caroline stiffened, anticipating his next request.

    “The opening is for a toter, a job generally given to women.” His fingers tightened on her hand. “You’re my only female agent. Would you go to Sinclair, apply for the position, and use it to look into Harmon’s death? I’d need to
    send you out on this evening’s train.”

    The entire journey home she’d anticipated a lengthy soak in a hot bath followed by days of lying on her comfortable feather mattress in a state of languor. The thought of departing that evening without even a few hours of rest made her want to groan. But how could she deny Noble when he’d done so much for her? Noble went on. “Of course, we can’t make investigating Harmon’s death your official reason for being there. We’d be overstepping our bounds with the
    local authorities. So, as far as the commission is concerned, you’d be there to finish Harmon’s report on the factory’s safety features…or the lack thereof. Harmon sent several messages about his findings. He was especially concerned
    about the number of underage workers at the factory, but he died before submitting a full report.”

    Caroline gave a start, her pulse speeding into a gallop. “Underage workers?”

    Noble’s lips formed a grim line. “According to Harmon, this factory seems to have a disproportionate number of child workers.”

    Her tiredness melted in light of this new information. The opportunity to further her personal battle to end child labor and to put Noble’s worries to rest concerning Bratcher’s death proved too tempting to resist. “I’ll go.”

    The relief in Noble’s face compensated for the loss of her hot bath and days of lazy recuperation. “Bless you, Caroline. There’s no one else I would trust with this mission.”

    His confidence in her both touched and terrified her. After all, one investigator had already died in the factory. Go with me, dear Lord. She drew in a deep breath and vowed, “I won’t let you down, Noble. I promise.”

    Excerpted from Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Copyright © 2014 by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  • These Pages Turn Themselves

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Treat yourself to a new read!
    Distortion by Terri Blackstock The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenberg
    Take This Cup by Bodie & Brock Thoene  The Amish Groom by Mindy Starns Clark & Susan Meissner
    Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Water Walker by Ted Dekker
  • David Lomas - On a Rescue Mission

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by John van der Veen

    John

    What is a rescue mission? I mean really. Not to sound dramatic on this, but isn't the call of missions placed on all followers of Jesus? Now if that is true, then isn't a work of mission really a work of rescuing? There is a lost world outside and Jesus has commissioned us to go after it with life and joy - to rescue people from the jaws of death, the devil and hell itself.

    David Lomas believes that to be true. He heard the word of the Lord to go, and that is exactly what he did. He went. David didn't go to a Bible-belt community where it may be a bit easier to teach and preach. No. He went to one of this countries most ungodly cities.

    David serves as the lead pastor at Reality in San Francisco, a church community that started in 2010 in the Castro District. According to Wikipedia, "the Castro remains one of the most prominent symbols of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activism and events." He lives, with his wife Ashley, in one of the most un-churched cities in the nation, but one that is bursting with new life and grace of God. The Reality family of churches is a growing movement committed to relational church planting and serving the broader body of Christ.

    I had to talk with this man. I wanted to hear his story and hear from him about what God was doing. Let me say this - The Gospel is alive in the Castro District and Jesus continues to change people into the likeness of Himself!

    John:               David, I'm wondering before with get started and talk about your book that just came out, would you be willing to give us a little bit of background information? Who is David Lomas, where did you came from, how you got into the position that you are now, as both a pastor and as a author.

    David:             Yeah, so I was born and raised in the central valley of California, so right now, I live in San Francisco. About 3, 4 hours south of here, almost to LA, is a little town right in the middle of California, called Bakersfield. Born and raised there. Didn't grow up in a Christian home at all. Was invited to church several times growing up. I always said that it was against my religion to go to church. Didn't really have a religion but it didn't involve church.

    I reluctantly went one time when I was like in 6th grade, and it was a very pentecostal church, and I was scared to death. I never went back to church, and then my freshman year of high school, a friend of mine started playing in a worship band at his church, and he was in a band that I would go and watch, like where I can get in as a freshman in high school, like pizza places and stuff like that. He invited me to church and said, "My band is playing at church," and I thought that was weird, but I went, and it was pretty fun.

    Then, right around I think my junior year of high school ... I didn't really go back that much. Junior of high school, I made a decision, I don't even know what it was. It might have been growing up kind of marginally Catholic, so it might have been those Catholic roots, but I'm like, okay, no matter what happens, when I wake up on Sunday morning from partying or whatever, I'm going to go to church. I don't even know why I did that. I think it was God just calling me, but I had no idea at the time why I was doing this.

    I would wake up random places on Sunday morning from partying all Saturday night, and I would wake up everyone to go to church. Like, "Hey, church starts at 10:30. It's 10:00. Everybody, wake up and let's get to church." I was like an evangelist before I was even saved. I'm like, "Let's get to church and there's free coffee and donuts there, so let's sober up." We'd get there, and we'd listen to the teaching, and I don't know, I just would go.

    I befriended a youth pastor there, and they invited me to a Wednesday night church one time, and I thought that was the strangest thing. I'm like, "You're going to church twice in a week? That's absurd. I mean, once is enough. What are you doing?" We were in a room, Wednesday night Bible study youth group. We were going around, sharing like, "When did you come into a personal relationship with Christ?" That was the question that everyone had to answer. I mean, I had no idea how to answer that question. I didn't even know that was a thing.

    I turned to my friend who invited me years ago. I'm like, "Hey," his name was Daniel, "Daniel, what do I say? Like, when it gets to my turn, what do I say?" He goes, "Don't worry. Just say, you don't know Jesus on that level yet," and I'm like, "Oh, that's a good one. I'm going to use that one."

    My turn and the youth pastor just says, "Dave, when did you come into a personal relationship with Jesus?" I go, "Well, I don't know Jesus on that level yet." I just look to my right, like next please, like he's going to pass over me, but I didn't know I was just pitching him right down the center, lob ball. I mean, this is every youth pastor's dream was to get this question, and he said, "Well, Dave," and he just pressed in, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven or hell?" I'm like, "I'd go to heaven, no problem, easy." He's like, "Why ... "

    I seriously thought in my head, I'm good enough. I'm good enough to get into heaven. He shared with me the gospel, and that night, I said the prayer to become a Christian. I think it was more of a fire insurance sort of thing, and then, I didn't change anything. Still sold drugs, still partied, and then about maybe 4 or 5 months later, I got kicked out of school for selling drugs, and my friend had just given me a Bible, same friend that invited me to church years ago.

    I opened it up, after getting kicked out of school not knowing what to do with my life, opened it up in the middle of the book to the book of Job, but I thought it said "job," and I'm like, "I need a job. That's what I need."

    John:               Yeah, of course.

    David:             I'm going to read this to get a job. I started reading it, 4 chapters in, God called me and said, "You can go to ... " well, it was just the whole Proverbs thing. "You go down this road and it leads to death or you can go down this road, it leads to life." I said, "I'm going to follow Jesus. I'm going to give up everything and follow him."

    I got rid of all my drugs that night, called my youth pastor up, said, "I'm a Christian now. I'm going to follow Jesus. Disciple me." Well, I didn't say that, but you know. "I want to follow Jesus now." He discipled me, got into ministry, and started doing youth ministry when I graduated high school. Was ordained at 21. God started giving me favor in doing ministry, and I loved it.

    I became a youth pastor and then a young adult pastor, and then, I met a friend in Santa Barbara, who said, "I want to plant a church," and he basically invited me to become a part of Reality, and I moved there, to Santa Barbara, and then from Santa Barbara, God called me to San Francisco to plant a church in San Francisco.

    We started the church in 2010, and it's just turned 4 years old, and it's been wild. It's been absolutely wild.

    John:               Was there a point, as you were reading through the book of Job ... like obviously something sparked in your life. Was there, what am I saying here, like a resonating story between the two of you, between both Job dealing with all of these really harsh realities of his circumstances and maybe a little bit of what you were going through as an individual?

    David:             Absolutely. I had a student Bible (I know you guys sell them at your store), but I got one that was put out, I don't know, in the early 90s, or mid 90s, and when I opened it up to Job, it said, "When bad things happen to good people," was the student Bible heading over that, and I'm like, "That's me. I am good," I was still convinced of my goodness, "I'm good. I'm not nearly as bad as all my other friends. Why me? Why did I get kicked out of school?"

    I read it, and what struck me was Job was being tested, was allowed to be tested by God, and I had zero Bible knowledge, but I somehow resonated with that going, "Maybe God is testing me and he wants to get my attention, and will I curse God or will I choose to follow him?" It was at that moment that I really had a vision, I think a vision of God. Christ going, "Choose. This way or this way. This way leads to death. This way leads to life."

    John:               Your life has been changed ever since.

    David:             Yeah, absolutely. It was that moment of repentance, turning from my ways to God's ways. I prayed the prayer before. I don't know what it did. I can't even tell you what it did. I might have made me receptive to when the Spirit called me, but that moment, the Spirit of God called me, and I turned repentant and followed him, and that was the moment it all changed for me.

    John:               David, this is not a secret, but you have chosen to pastor a church in one of the most un-Christian cities here in the US. I'm curious maybe about your thoughts as far as being a pastor in a dark place, like where you guys have chosen residency, and what does that mean as far as other cities? Are you saying that the rest of the US is doing that much better spiritually than San Francisco, or what? Just give your thoughts on that.

    David:             Yeah. I think that San Francisco is just as sinful as everyone else, but everyone else manages their sin better. You might have religious sin somewhere. Other cities might wrestle with different types of sin. San Francisco just sins a lot more out loud, a lot more colorfully, but just as sinful. I mean, I've lived in Southern California. I lived in beautiful Santa Barbara, and people just sin. It's the same rebellion as in other places.

    Ministering here? I love ministering here. I heard one time someone say that when they ministered in Texas they would have to convince people they're not a Christian before they could share the gospel. I'm like, "Wow, that would be really hard, to tell someone they're not," like, "You're not a Christian. Just because you go to church doesn't make you a Christian." They had to convince them that they're not first, like cultural Christianity doesn't count, and that this is what the true gospel is.

    Here, I don't have to work through that layer. Here, I can just say, "This is the gospel," and people here have rejected it so much that it really shines. You hold up the smallest light, and it shines in the darkness, and so, I'm able to get up every Sunday morning and preach truth and it's just black and white, and I love that. I love that opportunity, so ministering here has been one of the joys of my life.

    After living in San Francisco for just 3 months, my wife and I felt like God created us to live here. Everything great about this city, we love it. We love the diversity and the complexity of it, the culture of it, the colorfulness of it, the density, I mean, all of it, the food. Just everything about San Francisco, we love. We absolutely love. The architecture, the topography, everything.

    We feel like we're created to live here and then not only are we created to live here, but we're called to preach the gospel here, and it's needed and it's like a healing balm to people as soon as they hear it because it's so different than what they hear normally in San Francisco.

    John:               David, are people responding well to the message of the gospel?

    David:             Yeah. When I moved here, everyone said, "You're going to the graveyard of churches." I mean, prominent churches and pastors have tried to plant churches here and have put millions of dollars of effort in planning a church here, and almost all of them have failed, and so they said, "So and so has tried it and so and so has tried it and so and so has tried it. Good luck. It's where churches go to die. Have fun," like, "There you go."

    I had very low expectations. The church was sending us to plant here. I told them, "Give us 10 years before this church is established. Give us 5 to 10 years of funding and support, because this church is going to take a long time to bring 100 people to get critical mass," and the very first Sunday, it just was packed. I have no idea how, like zero promotion. Our website was horrible. You couldn't even find it even if you Googled our name. I have no idea.

    We had a group of people, like 35, 40 people praying, and then our first Sunday, close to 200 people showed up, and then, it just hasn't stopped growing from there, from our very first Sunday. People were very, very hungry for the gospel, and we just came at a ... I don't know. There's a time, San Francisco was just coming up. Our nation was coming out of a recession. San Francisco was leading the way in that, and all these start-ups were happening, all the stuff that the whole world is hearing about right now and happening in San Francisco was starting to happen in 2009, 2010.

    We just came right there, and I think there was this catalytic sort of moment, there was something in the air here where God was doing something different, and our church was just right there at that right time. I have no idea how it worked, but it's working. We great to 4 services. We have 4 services going on. We had to turn people away from church because we couldn't fit them in the room, and we just recently got into a bigger building that seats like 1400 people, but we're packed again. We're at capacity, and we don't know what to do next.

    Yeah, I don't know. God's just doing it. I don't know.

    John:               I heard once before of a church that was being planted in a large city that seemed to be kind of living through this more casual approach to Christianity where it was more of a cultural or a club kind of atmosphere. Almost everybody went to church, but hardly anybody had a real relationship with Jesus, and to some extent, that church, when they started, they just raised a banner on the flagpole saying, "Hey, we are a church that is all about the centrality of the gospel. We're all about Jesus and wanting to see and understand how he changes us," and the same thing kind of happened.

    It sounds to me that to some extent, you guys are in that same type of approach. You're preaching the gospel to people, to a people that are just very hungry for it.

    David:             Yeah, absolutely. When we first started the church, we said we're a theological community that's centered around Christ, and we'll preach, which is like we'll have conversation, but we're going to preach the gospel. As we've done that, as we've proclaimed Christ and made Christ central, God has drawn people to himself. We didn't come in trying to be like this really cool, hip thing. People thought our name was Reality, because we were so real, like, "Are you guys because you're real?"

    We stripped everything down to no production at all at the church, basically a band, but they weren't even spotlighted. You couldn't even see who was on the stage, and you could see the words on the screen, and that was proclaiming the theology of what we were singing, and that was it. People were like, it was so refreshing to people. They were like, "That's so refreshing." The emphasis is off the people and on God and it's transcendent and it's beautiful, and so, yeah, absolutely.

    John:               That's fantastic. David, you have a new book that you just came out with with David C Cook Publishers. Titled The Truest Thing About You. What is behind this? Give us the 30,000-foot view of this book and how it's speaking into the identity of those that you guys are ministering to.

    David:             Yeah, I guess, I'll give you a little back story behind the book that probably captures why we wrote the book, why I wrote the book, and why we put it out.

    About a 1-1/2 years into the church, we were growing, like we were saying and like I was saying, and we just got finished with the book of Mark, and it was great, and people were falling in love with Jesus, people were speaking the name of Jesus and getting baptized in Jesus' name. It was just great. It just Christ centered. It was a beautiful thing.

    After that, we were seeing all these people turn to Christ, but then, they were still sinning in the church, and I don't know what I expected, but I expected, you come in contact with the real Christ, and he'll completely change your life. He'll change your lifestyle, and we weren't seeing that as much, and so, I wanted to teach them holiness, and I wanted to bring down the hammer of holiness.

    I told me executive pastor. I'm like, "I'm going to teach them holiness after Mark, and I'm going to make people like ... " I almost put my youth pastor hat back on and make people sign pledges and wear  promise rings and stuff like that. I realized if I start doing this, if I want to teach on holiness the way I want to teach on it, everyone will feel like they've been duped. Like, "You brought us in with the gospel, and now, you're putting on us the law." That sort of thing.

    I felt like I can't do that. I know that there's something wrong, not resonating with me there, and then, as I was reading through the New Testament and I wanted to teach on a book and I came to Colossians 2 and 3, and  Paul is talking to the church in Colossae, saying that these lists that you keep doing, he says in chapter that do not touch, do not taste, do not feel, these sort of rules that you put on Christianity do nothing to restrain your sensual indulgences.

    Then, he goes right into chapter 3, which is all about Christian sanctification, and he says, but who you are in Christ, the fact that Christ is your life, you have to live from there that identity. I took that and I was starting to go through it and finding all these places where I was realizing before God ever tells us what to do, he tells us who we are, so every single command of holiness is based on a truth about us. Then, I was like, I don't think I've ever really understood that to the level of profoundness that I did when I was studying it for a series, and I said, "I need to teach our church how to find their identity in Christ."

    What I did, this was 2011, and I couldn't find that many good books on identity, and I'm like, this is it. I started teaching on it, and everyone started resonating with it. I almost feel like no one's talking about this, like who I am in Christ, make that the basis of my entire identity and then from there flows holiness, from there flows what I'm supposed to do, from that flows the commandments, and then, it started tapping into what ways people find their identity in, especially in San Francisco.

    They move here to work. They move here to express themselves sexually. They move here to flaunt what they have, and when we do that, we find our identity in a job, in a thing, in a sexual orientation or desire, and that's not where we're called to find our identity.

    From that series of identity comes this book, so this book is all about who we are in Christ, getting all the way back to Imago Dei. How we were created, and then letting that, those hints of creation, who we are, who we were created to be really, give us signposts to who God wants to remake us into and being conformed to the image of his son, and then taking that from because of who we are in Christ, then what we're called to do, there's power behind that. We can actually live into our identity in Christ because of who we are.

    Then, it goes into every single command of God is based on the truth about us, and that's the whole title of the book, The Truest Thing About You. Once you find the truest thing and you realize and come to understand and accept the truest thing about us, everything else flows from there, and so, that's like a high level of what the book is about. It's about identity. It's about our desires, and it's about why all those things really matter in our walk with Christ, and I think it's the whole point of sanctification.

    John:               There's a foreword in the book by another pastor, Francis Chan. How did that come about?

    David:             Francis is a good friend of mine. We met here in San Francisco. He moved here, I think, 2011. The church was just turning a year old, and I remember him showing up to church and we had a mutual friend. My friend said, "Hey, you should go to Dave's church since you're in San Francisco. Check it out." He came one Sunday and we had lunch afterwards, and we just kind of hit it off. Our hearts were kindred, like our hope for the church, our hopes for San Francisco, our hopes for what the gospel can do in the life of a person. We just kind of connected.

    We've been friends for several years now. I wrote this book, and I sent it to Francis, saying, "Hey, I'd love if you could endorse the book or maybe thinking about writing a foreword to the book or whatever," and so, he's like, I mean, he probably gets that 100 times a day. I would imagine everyone in the world wants Francis to do something in the book. I sent it to him not expecting anything back, and he read it on his plane ride to China. He got to China, and he emailed me immediately. He said, "Hey, I don't have time to tell you that much stuff, but I deeply love this book. Like, it moved me. It changed the way I think about things."

    Then it was almost like a little weird ... It was kind of weird to me, but it was almost like a little confession saying, "I think I've pushed people to mission not based on their identity in Christ but based on you have to do this for God," and he goes, "I was so convinced that I needed to tell people who they are in Christ." I was blown away. I was like, "Wow, thank you," all this other stuff, and I said, "Let me know if you would consider writing something for the book."

    He said, "Hey, I wrote you a letter, and you can do whatever you want with it. You could put it in the book as is. You could change it to be more like a foreword or an endorsement, whatever, or you could just ditch it, whatever you want to do." We read it, and it was just such a heartfelt letter of how this book changed the way I see and pastor and even parent as well as other stuff, and we just thought, "Hey, I'm going to leave it in just as it is, and so the foreword of the book is basically a letter that he wrote to me, telling how the book really impacted his life.

    John:               That's so cool. All right. I'm going to read a little bit here, just one quote at the very end, and then, I just have one more question for you, David.

    You write at the end "Christ is your life. He gives you a new identity and will work that new identity out in your life until the day when he appears. On that day, you will finally see clearly as Christ sees you now. You will know as you are known." What a great promise that is. That's awesome. I've been challenged by this book, and I want to encourage anybody who's reading this interview to go out and pick up a copy of David Lomas' new book, The Truest Thing About You. It's a good book, it's a challenging book.

    I wrestled as I was reading this book. There were a couple of parts in it as I was going through, and I was like, "I don't like where he's going with this," and then, of course, by the end of the chapter, I was like, "Of course, yes. This makes sense," and I felt like God was hitting me over the head with a 2 x 4, which was great.

    Hey, I have to ask, are you a coffee drinker or a Mountain Dew drinker? What is your culture like in San Francisco?

    David:             I don't remember the last time I had a Mountain Dew. Coffee all the way, absolutely. The culture here in San Francisco is a insane coffee culture, almost too insane, almost too snobby. Yeah, it's just like insane.

    John:               Now, is it like froo-froo coffee for you, or is it just like, hey, straight up black coffee?

    David:             Oh, straight up. Like, I'll add some milk or something to it, but yeah, every morning.

    John:               Anyway, David, hey, thank you so much, man, for chatting with me today. I really appreciate it. God bless you, brother. Thank you very much.

    For more on David's book, click here.

    Book Endorsements

    “The truth hurts, the phrase goes, but Dave Lomas shows how the truest truth blesses and heals. Read this book and be reminded, or hear for the first time, that you are beloved. Trust it is true, and love will change your life. Enjoy Lomas’ masterful fusion of pastoral compassion, writerly wit, and spiritual sincerity.”

    Jenell Paris, professor of anthropology at Messiah College and author of The End of Sexual Identity

    “We live in a world where it is so incredibly easy to have what we think about ourselves subtly and sometimes not so subtly shaped by culture, people, and our own insecurities. The Truest Thing about You is a compass and a map that will help us see how we may have missed the incredible way God created us to be and how He sees us, which is our true identity. Too many people live their lives not understanding what Dave writes about here and what a joy it is thinking about how people’s lives will radically change if they grasp the truths within this book.”

    Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith and author of They Like Jesus But Not the Church

    “Dave Lomas is not only a great pastor and author, but a great friend. Over the last few years my heart has been broken beyond my wildest imagination as I watched my young daughter die of cancer. There were times that I would not have made it through if Dave were not there to shepherd my soul with the same great wisdom, insight, compassion and incisive truth that overflows this book. I am so thankful for him and the way that this book will serve to heal and propel so many into the mission of Christ.”

    Britt Merrick, pastor and author of Godspeed

    The Truest Thing about You is an important book. It’s important because it cuts to the core of what it means to be human, what it means to be loved by God, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And this is not just theory. Dave writes from deep experiences pastoring in one of America’s most identity-rich cities. Rarely has a book gotten to the heart of the issue with such precision and skill. I believe this will be a powerful tool for helping people be more transformed into the image of Jesus.”

    Jon Tyson, lead pastor at Trinity Grace Church New York

    “We are a generation haunted by the question: who am I? More than ever before, we wander through life confused and lost amid the panoply of options. In a cultural milieu of one identity crisis after another, Dave Lomas’ first book comes as firm ground under our feet. Dave is a friend I know and respect. He’s smart, humble, kind, self-effacing, and he has something to say. I encourage you to listen up.”

    John Mark Comer, pastor for teaching and vision at Bridgetown and author of Loveology

    “Dave Lomas is hitting on one of the great felt needs of our generation by asking this transformative question: What is the truest thing about you? His perspective on identity is truly needed, flipping the entire subject on its head and driving to the center of who we are as people, and ultimately as leaders. Is it what you do? Is it what you're good at? Is it who you know? The answer is so much bigger than these things. I urge you not to miss this important book!”

    Brad Lomenick, author of The Catalyst Leader and President and Key Visionary of Catalyst

    "There is only one thing more important than who you think you are … that's who God knows you are. Our lives are full of opportunities to define ourselves by what we do, have, or desire, but with honesty and wisdom, Dave Lomas brings us back to the truest thing about you. This book is for everyone who wonders 'who am I, really?' … which is everyone!"

    Nicole Unice, Christian counselor and coauthor of Start Here

  • Coming soon from Francesca, MercyMe and the Robertsons

    Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian

    Read our interview
    If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli
    If We’re Honest by Francesca Battistelli
    Welcome To The New by MercyMe
    The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica & Lisa Robertson with Beth Clark
    Good Call by Jase Robertson with Mark Schlabach
    Save 33% on “Duck” items 4/1–4/5 Plus, enter to win the grand prize! Learn more about Duck Days><br />
    The iDisciple app makes it easy to receive personalized Christian content.  Sign up.
  • For your eReader: Kyle Idleman’s newest!

    Posted on March 19, 2014 by Family Christian

    AHA by Kyle Idleman
    May we suggest...
    The Daniel Plan by  Daniel Amen, Mark Hyman and Rick Warren Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford Uncommon Marriage by Tony and Lauren Dungy
    Growing Up Duggar by Jill, Jinger, Jessa & Jana Duggar Four Blood Moons by John Hagee Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
    Download the Kobo app

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