Can I Get A Discount With That?

10 Things Heard In a Christian Bookstore:

10. You Don't have any good books!
9. I can get it cheaper on Amazon.
8. That book is only 25 years old I can't believe you don't have that on the shelf.
7. What do you mean it's out of print?
6. I want a real Bible!
5. Can I take this Bible home and try it out.
4. If I buy 2 books can I get the 3rd for a discount?
3. The KJV is the only Word of God.
2. I can't believe you have/don't have THAT book!
1. Can I get a discount because I am (insert position, income level here)

I love Christian bookstores. They are fun places to work, visit and shop in. I always find treasures I did not know exist. I also see and have heard lots of behind the scene stuff over the years as well. From the US to Canada many Christian bookstore owners feel unappreciated and just plain worn down.

We have an advantage in the western world that many believers around the world don't have, access to Christian material. We can find the Bible of our choice, color, size and shape. We can find more books than we will ever read in a lifetime. We have access to music that would take a century to listen to. We are blessed.

You wouldn't know it by standing in a bookstore sometimes. The top 10 list were all things I have heard over the years while in a Christian bookstore. If this is how believers act in a Christian bookstore I am afraid to hear how they act while in the world. The tone most of these statements were made in ranged from indignant to shocked. From downright rude to biting. That to me is sad. When was the last time you thanked your service providers? Not just Christian bookstore owners but anyone who provides a service to you. When was the last time you offered an encouraging word, a smile or heaven forbid a prayer?

What happen to love and kindness in the body of Christ? What happened to treating others as we would want to be treated? (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31)

Love One Another. If Christ lives in you, it shouldn't be that hard!


Missionary Spotlight: Lenard and Debbie Nance

Here is the next Missionary Spotlight. Each month I will highlight a different missionary that my wife and I know somewhere around the world. We encourage you to pray for them and their work. You will find contact info if you want to send them an encouraging note and also information on how to donate towards their ministry if you feel so led. The next missionaries are Lenard and Debbie Nance. You can find out more info about Lenard and Debbie, including contact info, at their website: Connecting Cultures and Lenard's Blog.

Lenard and Debbie have been married for 32 years, have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. They started their missions life in 1991 by taking a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission) in Tyler, Texas. In 1993 they were accepted on staff with YWAM Salem, Oregon where they have served for the last 16 years.

In 1993 the Lord gave Lenard and Debbie a vision of seeing a YWAM operating center in Southeast Alaska. The Lord refined that focus to connecting the Native people of Southeast Alaska with unreached tribal people around the world, engaing them with the message of Jesus Christ through their own culture. Lenard and Debbie launched Connecting Cultures in Christ in 2003 to intentionally move forward with mobilizing Southeast Alaskan Natives to missions.

Lenard and Debbie are currently in the process of developing property, donated in 2008, for a YWAM operating center in Ketchikan, Alaska. This is one of the main gateways to Southeast Alaska. They will move to Alaska this year. After all these years in pursuit of God's leading and provision, they are experiencing the joy and excitement of seeing their dream fulfilled.

Donations are needed for property development and ministry costs. You can donate to the ministry of Lenard and Debbie Nance via Connecting Cultures in Christ, PO Box 12647, Salem, OR 97309

CCinc is a registered non-profit 501(c)3 organization and all donations are tax deductible within the rules and regulations of the IRS.


Wind River

Author Tom Morrisey has another winner here. Released just under a year ago, I came across this book only recently. While reviewing Tom's previous book for my local Christian bookstore I saw this one and knew it would be next on my list.

I have now read 3 of Tom's books and each one gets a little better. This is not easy, as each one seems nearly perfect to begin with. Wind River pulled me into the world of a soldier in Iraq, sent me hurtling into the life of a older fisherman and gave me a shocking twist I never saw coming. If you like adventure, the outdoors and great fiction you will find all 3 in Wind River.

This is clearly Tom's best work yet. If you love adventure, mystery and the great outdoors than dive into Wind River today. You won't be disappointed.


Give a Dress - Change a Life

Following on the Servolution book and the interview with Pastor Dino Rizzo, I wanted to share this story:

It was around 1991-2. The time is a little fuzzy to me. I was 21 or so. My Mom, sister and I were in the local Christian bookstore in my East Tennessee hometown. A lady was in who had recently given birth to a daughter with a cleft lip and some other issues. The lady was unmarried and a new Christian. She was discouraged and seemed somewhat sad. She lacked hope and was asking for prayer.

My Mom asked if she would be in the store for a few minutes. Racing home, my Mom dug into the closet and pulled out a brand new, frilly baby dress she had recently acquired from a friend. Hurrying back to the store she presented the dress to the lady. The lady thanked my Mom, maybe hugs were exchanged, I can't recall. We left. End of story.

Or so we thought!

3 years ago....14-15 years after this event, My mom was in the doctors office and was approached by this same lady. She remembered my Mom and all of our names. She reminded my Mom of the events stated above and in the words of Paul Harvey (an American radio host who recently passed) she began to tell us the rest of the story.

After receiving the dress from my Mom she realized God did care about her situation if He would prod a complete stranger to display a "random" act of kindness. She took baby pics with her daughter in the new dress. Hope being restored, she went back to school where she earned her degree. She found a nice man and got married. She had a couple more kids and got a good job. She told my Mom that this dress changed her whole life.

Matthew 7:12 says, "Always do for other people everything you want them to do for you. That is the meaning of Moses' Teachings and the Prophets."

1 Peter 3:8 says, "Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble."

Compassion, care and love do not always come easy. Sometimes the last thing we want to do is to go out of our way for a complete stranger. We were lucky enough, in this instance, to hear the results of a random (to us not God) act of kindness.

Every person you meet can be impacted for eternity by your actions, words and attitudes. That is both scary and awe inspiring.

Of course we have to have a basis for our actions. We can only truly love one another if we are firmly planted and rooted in Christ.

When that love is there, it is watered and we let it bloom.....it can change the world!


5 Questions with Dino Rizzo

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Pastor Dino Rizzo. He is the founding pastor of Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana - a church with over 7,000 people in 11 campuses and 18 weekend services. HPC has been named one of America’s Top 25 Most Innovative Churches - a reflection of his overwhelming drive to reach the unreachable and to engage with others to show God’s love to the poor and hurting - wherever they are. His book, SERVOLUTION, exposes his passion to see believers join together in a revolution of serving others - Jesus style. Dino and his wife DeLynn have three incredible children. Dino also co-founded the Association of Related Churches, which has planted 63 churches across the country, and Go Global Missions, a group designed to develop missionaries and connect and support missions organizations. Visit his blog at to learn more.

This interview is one part of a massive multi-blog tour Pastor Rizzo is conducting today. More details will follow the interview. And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Pastor,
Question 1: Pastor Rizzo what one word would describe your current relationship with the Lord?

"More." I'm not dissatisfied with Him, but rather my seeking Him. I want to do whatever it takes to know Him greater, and for Him to be fully alive in my life.

Question 2: A book, an event. What exactly is Servolution?

Servolution is not just a book or an event - it is both, but it is much more. For us, it is who we are - it is our culture.

Question 3:
When reading your book, I came away impressed with how simple acts of kindness can change a life. Do you have a favorite story/experience?

It's hard to say one story is a "favorite" over another, but there is one that stands out to me right now as I'm working through these questions. We gave out Tootsie Pops at the LSU campus a few weeks ago, and one student who got one decided to check out a young adult gathering at our church that was mentioned by whoever gave it to him. When he came, he heard about a men's conference we were hosting that coming weekend, with Paul Cole, Mike Haman and Shawn Alexander speaking. He came, and decided there to give his life to Christ and make Jesus his Savior. It started with a Tootsie Pop. You just never know.

Question 4:
Your new book is filled with resources and practical tips for reaching out to the community as a whole. It also contains numerous stories of your own acts of Servolution. How long did this book take to write?

A lifetime. I'm not intending to be dramatic with that, but seriously, this book couldn't have been written without going through the things we've gone through and learning stuff the hard way and seeing God's faithfulness come through for us time after time.

Question 5:
Your church recently launched Servolution as a world wide event. Our church was glad to be a part of that but how did this event go overall?

Thank you for participating in the 7 days of Servolution, and for helping with the blog tour for the book. Both have far exceeded our hopes. God used the 7 days of Servolution event to help a lot of churches see that working together we can do more - 240 churches in all. Together, we helped a lot of people in communities around the world. Thanks for the part your church played in that - only God knows the extent of impact it will have on our churches and communities.

Thank you Pastor Rizzo!
You can see the other blogs participating in the Servolution blog tour at: Pastor Dino's blog.

There you have it. I would encourage you, if you haven't already, to buy Servolution today!

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


Servolution - The Book!

Every so often a book will come along that will challenge you to the core. Your gut reaction will be to either throw the book across the room in anger or to get off your backside and do something about what you've read.

Servolution by Pastor Dino Rizzo is this type of book. It is a book that will challenge and inspire you. It is a book that will make you laugh and make you uncomfortable. I realized while reading this book that I can't just sit idly by and do nothing. I need to put my faith in action. I want to be the hands and feet of Christ to a hurting world.

Filled with practical tips this book is anything but a how to manual. Instead you find tips and suggestions that help you to be creative in reaching out to your own community. The first step is to follow Jesus.

One line that stands out to me in the whole book is:

Listen. Find out what God is doing and jump on board.

That to me sums up this book in a nutshell.

So what are you waiting for. Get on board and start a Servolution in your community today.

Order this book and be ruined for the ordinary! Servolution is published by Zondervan.


One Day At a Time

One Day.

24 Hours.

1,440 Minutes.

86,400 Seconds.

That was all I was asking God for.

Wait. I am getting ahead of myself.

I look up faith in the dictionary. One of the Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions for faith is: belief and trust in and loyalty to God

I like that. The Bible defines faith as: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

I really like that!

As I mentioned a few days ago here, I have asthma. I recently struggled with it to the point where I was completely and utterly worn out. Using your inhaler 24 times in 21 days will do that. There were other issues going on which I mentioned in my previous post. However a result of all of this was that my faith was at a low point. A really low point.

On day 21 I was talking to my Mom, (believing Moms are great) and shared with her my health struggle. I told her that I really didn't have much faith for long term relief from the struggle right now. My prayer was echoing that of the father found in Mark: Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

I mentioned I really only had faith for one day. 24 hours. My Mom prayed for me and then we hung up. 24 hours passed. No inhaler! I praised God but my faith was such that I was taking it one day at a time. I continued to have faith for just that much. Now, 8 days out (as I write this) and I find my faith growing. As I dig into the Word and worship the Father I feel I have the faith for 2-3 days now.

Maybe that doesn't mean a lot to you.

Maybe your faith is stronger.

Praise God.

I find right now, one day at a time allows me to cling to Him in a fresh way.

Maybe in a week or 2 it will be a week at a clip, then a month, then a year...faith is like that.

It grows as it is nurtured. We have are ups and downs.

God, however is always faithful.


Out of Focus

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

Sometimes my life is way out of focus. I don't know how it happens. Well actually I do. I'm ashamed to say I take my eyes off of where they should be and the next thing I know my life becomes completely unbalanced.

I have mild asthma and at times it becomes hard to breathe. This is NOT a fun feeling. Struggling for breath can be quite scary. However, the fear can cause one to panic, or at least become a bit anxious. This tends to happen for me after a prolonged series of attacks.

I recently had a very prolonged series of asthma issues. I ended up using my inhaler about 24 times in 21 days. Now, even for me, that is an extreme and unusual situation. However about 20 days into this I realized I was being consumed by the situation. My waking thoughts were gravitating towards my breathing. I was beginning to walk around looking for signs I may be entering into distress. I was becoming intensely aware of every minute change in my chest.

My eyes were no longer on Jesus. After I became aware of this, my mind drifted to Matthew where we find the story of Peter, who seeing the Lord Jesus walk across the water, stepped out of the boat in faith and began walking towards Him. However:

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:30-31)

Peter got his eyes off of God and began to sink. This is what was happening to me. I was sinking in fear, distracted by the situations. I had to get to the point where I cried out, "Lord, save me!" That is exactly what happened. On day 21 I sunk to my knees late in the evening and cried to the Lord in my distress! I repented for the sin of idolatry.

Wait idolatry?!? Yes. Idolatry in it's simplest form, is having another god besides the Lord of Lords. That is what I was doing. I was focused on something else completely. I had made my health, my lungs, an idol. I had to repent.

I know the Lord heard my cry. I felt His rebuke for my doubt.

My focus is slowly going back to its proper place. I am resting more in the Lord as I seek to focus on Him daily. Yes I still have some asthma issues, though not like what happened recently. In fact I have not used the inhaler since that day. As much as I praise God for that, I know that even if I do have to resort to an inhaler, in faith I can keep my focus on Christ.

What about you? Are you in a battle? Where is your focus?


The Sky is Falling!

Apparently the end of the world is at hand and I did not get the memo!

I turn on the news and this pandemic of epidemic proportions is everywhere. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control), which this week seems to mean calamity, death and chaos, keep giving dire warnings of what could happen. WHO (World Health Organization) is telling us we are, at this writing, 1 phase away from a major pandemic outbreak. Media outlets tell me to run, hide, panic! The President of the US tells me to wash my hands?!?

At least I can talk about the insanity with my fellow believers. They'll understand. Whoa...wait....what is this....my inbox overfloweth with more grim news. Sure enough I have Christian organizations and Bible believing friends telling me to be prepared and to be afraid!

What are we all so afraid of? What are we worrying about? Doesn't the Bible say: "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matt. 6:34

Every year there is some disease, illness, hurricane, storm, etc that will wreak havoc on society and cause chaos and confusion, driving the masses wild as anarchy hits the streets! Why, do we not recall the SARS outbreak that killed millions around the world? How about y2k, which our computers and the major power grids are just now recovering from? No? Oh that's right because they didn't happen!

The sad part to me, is how many believers seem to eagerly embrace the same fears the world does.

Yes bad things happen, there are diseases out there, and probably more to come, that we should be aware of. It's great to practice good hygiene. Why the panic though?

"And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span?" Luke 12:25

Does the Bible not talk about things getting worse as time moves on? As His children we should be stepping up in faith and showing the world the hope that we have. If we scream panic, panic, how will they listen to us when we say faith, faith? "Oh God has everything in His control", we say. Yet trouble comes and we are first in line for the life vest!

It's time to stand in faith. It's time to embrace the peace that passes all understanding. Fear not!


5 Questions With Clay Crosse

Welcome to 5 Questions With.....

Today's guest is Clay Crosse. Clay is a 3 time Dove Award winning singer/songwriter who has recorded 5 albums, 2 compilation albums and a live worship album. His best known songs include, "I Surrender All", "I Will Follow Christ" and "My Place Is With You."

Clay and his wife Renee also co-wrote the book, "I Surrender All: Rebuilding A Marriage Broken By Pornography" and they founded a ministry together called Holy Homes.

And now without further delay, on to the questions:

Hi Clay,

Question 1: What one word would describe your current relationship with God?


Question 2: I found your book, I Surrender All: Rebuilding a Marriage Broken By Pornography, to be very impacting. I also struggled with porn in the past. Was it hard to be this vulnerable in your book?

Yes, it was actually not only hard, but truly painful to put that story in writing. But once it was done, I could see that God would use it for amazing work in other peoples lives.

Question 3: God has worked a
restoration and healing into your marriage and you started Holy Homes to encourage Christian homes to come back to God. Can you describe the ministry of Holy Homes?

It's a marriage ministry basically, though it seems to speak to singles and divorced as well. My wife Renee and I simply go in and encourage Christian marriages to recommit their homes to Christ. All the while not shying away from our testimony of God's grace in our life. Yep....warts and all. He communicates and softens hearts with that, so we just go with it. All for the cause.

Question 4: What is your prayer for the body of Christ?

For us to see Him much larger and clearer and present than we do. In this regard, I don't think we are anywhere close to reality. We tend to categorize and make Him smaller in our perception. To quote the band U2, "stop helping God across the road like a little old lady." Yep...He's a bit larger and stronger than we imagine.

Question 5: Clay you are recording a new CD, Anthems, how is that going?

The Anthems CD is almost done. I'm quite pleased and VERY thankful God has restored this voice. It should be available this summer/fall.

Thank you Clay for taking the time to answer these questions.

God Bless You.

There you have it. I would encourage you to check out Holy Homes and if you have not read Clay and Renee's gripping story, "I Surrender All" then please pick up a copy today..

To see past 5 Question guests, check out the rotating interview links on the sidebar.


So Where Exactly Is My Backyard? - Just A Thought #33

I remember years ago, when Sarah and I first went to the mission field, a few people told me we should focus on people in our own backyard first instead of "taking off overseas". At the time I brushed the comments aside. Today I am paying attention.

You see I have heard these comments A LOT over the years. Not just to us, but when people talk about helping others period. Recently, I was discussing foreign aid with some people online and the comments I heard years ago came hurtling back.

It got me to thinking; where exactly is this backyard I keep hearing about?

In an ideal world, every believer would reach out with the love of Christ to their own neighbors. If you are one of those who are actively engaged in sharing Christ with others, than Praise God, keep it up!. What happens though, to those in towns, cities, villages, etc.. where there is no witness? Do we let them drift to hell while we sit on our hands talking about our own backyards?

What about our "backyard?" I have noticed that most who talk about this "backyard" actually use it as an excuse to do nothing at all. Worse, they may throw some money at a project or make half-hearted attempts to share with those in need before quickly retreating to the safety of their home church.

People are dying and going to hell. Are we getting out to where they are and sharing Him?

People are suffering! Over 2 million people live on less than $2 a day. How much did I spend on coffee this week? Personally, this week I spent over $10 on coffee. How many people would that have fed in the third world?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying we can't enjoy life. I am asking how we can ignore suffering people around the world or in our own backyard? How many homeless people are there in your town? Where do the alcoholics hang out? The prostitutes? The young people? Where are those who have been sexually abused? Those with lifestyles that conflict with our interpretation of Scripture? Are we hanging with them? Are we loving them? Are we eating with them? Ministering to them?

If not I have one question: Why not? Jesus did!

"What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
(Matthew 21:28-31)

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.
(Matthew 18:12-14)

I don't want you to feel guilty. I want you to act. Put actions to our words of faith. Put hands and feet to the life we talk about in church. Go where Jesus is...to the world around us.