Showing posts from 2010

What Good is God?

 Philip Yancey talks about his latest book What Good is God? There was a day when we Christians would not countenance for an instant, questions about God's worth, reliability, character or presence.  We were just supposed to accept everything by faith, swallow our questions and wear a brave face.  Yancey never presumes to have all the answers, but he does humbly and without railing invite us to journey with him as he explores the reasons for believing in and following God with all of our heart. Ravi Zacharias, C. S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, and N. T. Wright are just a few of the brilliant, contemporary apologists who brilliantly and knowledgeably stand beside Philip Yancey in defending, explaining and validating our faith.  Yancey tells us that he is more of an explorer than a defender.  But I have found that the stories he tells and the illustrations he uses do strengthen my conviction that our faith is defensible. What good is God?  No good whatsoever, if he is a god made

I'm Not Good Enough...

and Other Lies Women Tell Themselves.   A dear friend discovered this book by "happenstance". She raved about it, quoted from it and recommended it. So I asked her to write about it for our blog. Thank you Jenelle! I stepped into House of James with my grandmother one day and she spotted this book.  Since it is not only what I am struggling with but what my counsellor is teaching me, I thought I'd give it a try. It has made all the difference in my life. It is a book by Sharon Jaynes that not only points out the negative messages women tell themselves but also helps you to fight them by finding the Bible's liberating truth.  One thing I loved when I first opened it is that it begins by recognizing who the enemy is and what he is capable of in our lives.  Sharon has a way of helping us to reject the deceiver and call upon our Savior for assistance in our time of need. After finding out who the enemy is, Sharon helped me to really recognize my negative message

Everyone Loves them

                                           WATCH THIS FIRST! (and then read what staff member Esther has to say)  First, a confession. I watch Veggie Tales. I’m too old to have claimed to grow up on them, but neither do I have the convenient excuse of having kids in tow when I browse that section of our store. For those with kids, indulge your funny bone, and for those without, rest assured that you’re in good company!   When I was asked to write about “It’s a Marvelous Life” I thought of my favorite Larry the cucumber quote “I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob”. Well (except for the crying) this show would suffice in filling that description. This mix of spoofs of Polar Express, A Christmas Carol, and It’s a Wonderful Life got all smooshed together to produce what I think may be Veggie Tales most heartwarming “feel-good” show to date. Slightly different from their normal fare, it’ll still appeal to kids and non-kids alike. It delves into the world of sports,

I Quit!

is the title of  a book that I am reading over my lunch breaks. The sub-title is: Stop Pretending Everything is Fine and Change Your Life. The content and conclusions that author Geri Scazzero draws are too important to wait for me to finish reading the whole book.  I remember when I personally stopped pretending 14 years ago. It was a shock to everyone! But man did I meet and make a lot of friends through the process.  The author says, "Jesus invited me into the Christian life to enjoy a rich banquet at his table. Instead, it often felt like I was a galley slave, laboring to serve everyone else at the feast rather than enjoying it myself.  In my relationship with Jesus, I'd gone from the great joy of feeling overwhelmed by his love to bitter resentment at feeling overwhelmed by his demands.  My identity had been swallowed up in putting others before myself.  I constantly thought of the needs of our four small daughters.  I worried about Pete's responsibilities. I fill

Whetting your appetite

Yesterday we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving.  For the first time in years, I did not stress out. Turns out I should have. The fellowship was grand, the food was not.  I roasted 2 ducks (a last minute ill-advised impulse), opened a can of chicken gravy, poured boiling water onto instant potato flakes; did the same to instant stuffing and served a store bought apple pie.  My family graciously choked down a few morsels but it was not my finest festive moment.  I'm quite sure that particular menu would not tempt any of you, but I am hoping that the following offering of books will.  They are all newcomers.  Our "new arrivals" shelf is right near the tills at the front and every time I pass it, I want to reach out and graze.   Dancing with Max by Emily Colson. Yes, she is Chuck Colson's daughter and Max is her son.  Max is 19 years old and autistic.  Emily is a single mom who writes honestly and earnestly. Although Charles Colson writes the prologue as well as the

The Big Red Tractor

Miss Denise reads a story From Denise's desk: Anyone who knows me, knows that I love a good children's book...I love to read them out loud, and I love the interaction that can follow. This past week I found a new story to add to my favourites!! Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love and Forgotten God , has written a book for kids called The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village . This is an absolutely delightful tale that instantly grabbed me. It goes something like this: A small farming village loves their big tractor, unfortunately none of them really knows what the tractor can do, they love the size and the sound it makes but it is hard to use and heavy to push (obviously the villagers do not know how to use it properly). All the villagers just think that is the way it is until Farmer Dave uncovers a dusty old book in an attic and discovers the tractor was meant to do much more. Although the village laughs and makes fun of Farmer Dave, he doesn'

More Reasons

I told you that I was going to finish the list of top 10 reasons to visit our store this fall in my next post, but I actually have 11. #11 We are in the middle of a 4 day sale which ends on Saturday Oct 2. There are some marvelous books on sale for electrifying prices. Hea ven by Randy Alco rn is only $8.99. We have sold hundreds of this book, ever since a 17 year old who worked on staff years ago told me that it was the best book he had ever read. And it's thick! 66 L o ve Let ters by Dr. Larry Crab b is $9 .99. Use it as a companion to your daily Scri ptur e reading. The book is described as a conversation with God that invites you into His st ory. Have a New Husband by Friday & Have a New Kid by Friday $9.99 each . Author Dr. Ke v i n Leman is a pretty funny guy. He says that you don't actually have to wait un til Friday. Y o u can probably have a new one by Wednesday. I'm pretty happy with the husband and kids that I have, but judging by the wa

Top 10 Reasons

to come and see us this Fall: #1 Serving you is what matters most. It is our privilege to serve you. Your experience in our store matters personally to us. You are the centerpiece of the work we have been given and we truly hope we can provi de s omething of value to you. We will always do our v ery best to find what you need! ( "Reasons" taken from the current flyer and written by Margo Smith. ) #2 The Re al Thing! Do you love the touch and feel of a real book as much as we do? Do yo u want them to live on? Online shopping is here to stay and e -books have their appeal but independent, local bookstores with real people selling real books can be part of the future too. #3 We are Christians. We don't sell Christian because it's hot. We sell Christian even when it' s not. We focus on being Christian in everything we do. We would like to think that together we are playing a part in w hat God is doing in our community. #4 Independent, local bus

Mark Driscoll + Hipster Christianity

Cool + Christ = Hipster Faith is the feature article in the current issue of the magazine Christianity Today . Having 3 kids in the relevant generation, I found the article absorbing .Dozens of traditional Christian icons are repudiated by this new wave of Jesus followers. End-time hysteria, Adventures in Odyssey, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and tract distribution are among the new pariahs. Passionate concern for social justice, organic meals, c hurch liturgy and outings to microbreweries are the new normals. (To learn more about this phenomenon? movement? fad? wave? read Brett McCracken's Hipster Christianity ). Shock jock Mark Driscoll, described in the article as "the polarizing Howard Stern of neo-Calvinist Christianity" is in with this gang. Matthew, a former staff member at the store, just graduated from Regent College in Vancouver. In his mid-20s, well-educated, thoughtful, he was a perfect choice for a review of Mark Driscoll's latest book, Do

We all need it

I have a tendency to gush when I'm excited about something so brace yourself. Every morning before we open the store, we take 5 minutes to read a little bit of the Bible or another book and pray. I love that part of the day because it gives us a chance to take a breath, share prayer requests, and prepare ourselves for what we hope will be a busy day. When it is my turn to read, I often just randomly pull a book off of the shelf. My litmus test of excellence is that I can open it anywhere and find a piece of gold. I am VERY happy to tell you about a new book that just came in a few days ago. The title is The One Year Book of Encouragement and although we have just read a couple of days worth of devotionals, I am a fan. The sub-title is: 365 Days of Inspiration and Wisdom for Your Spiritual Journey and there are contributions from dozens of my favourite authors: Amy Carmichael, Nancy Guthrie, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jill Briscoe, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, J.I.

Chick-Lit (not)

In a previous post I mentioned that it leaves me cold - light romantic fiction for women that is. Now, some followers of this blog may look at the following review and wonder, but truly, this series by Neta Jackson is unusual and outstanding. Book One in the Yada Yada House of Hope novels is entitled Where Do I Go? The titles of the 4 books in the series are taken from the song :"I Go to the Rock" by Dottie Rambo. Set in Chicago, we follow the life and times of Gabby. The fun-loving, impetuous, red-headed mother of two is about to follow her instincts once too often. When s he brings a filthy street person home to their penthouse apartment, her husband is not pleased, but he completely loses it when Gabby invites her mother + dog to stay with them. Gabby, her mother, the dog AND her two sons end up at Manna House, a shelter for homeless women. We will get to know Gabby, her sons and many other memorable characters very well in the following two books (4th and last du

New on the Shelf!

This is a gr eat fall for new books. Some have already arrived, and some are still on the way. I can't resist letting you know about what I am seeing on the New Arrivals Shelf . The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead - Already half way through and enjoying it thoroughl y. I always have a secret wish that his fantasies were actually based on fact... Oh ho! After reading the essay by Lawhead himself at the very end of this first in the series, maybe they are! Choosin g to See by Mary Beth Chapman - A reader tells me that this one is a "pillow soaker ". Just looking through the pictures in the center is enough to start me off. The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo. When I first saw the title and the cover, I tho ught this was a novel. I wish it was, but unfortunately, this a true account of ministry and murder and forgiveness. A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God's Sovereignty by Jo


A few month ago a customer asked me some questions about the fiction we sell. Is there any criteria for the fiction you stock? Are there certain authors that you trust? Are some publishers better than others? Are there any books you refuse to carry? A few months ago, my boss, Lando Klassen, wrote an article entitled, "Christian Fiction, No Such Thing Anymore?" I quote: I've been thinking about our fiction section at House of James. Like most Christian type stores we carry titles primarily from Nelson, Tyndale, Baker/Bethany, Zondervan and other “Christian” publishers and some from major general publishers. For years many of our books had some kind of redeeming element or some kind of Christian theme woven throughout - yes sometimes it was forced and sometimes it seemed a bit cheesy I’ll admit. Now though, many of our books are better written but there seems to be virtually no redeeming value in them. For example, Liparulo’s Comes a Horseman , Ted Dekker’s B

Signs of LIfe

I apologize for the over-long hiatus to this blog. I do have two excuses - I was on holidays and then I filled in for our receiver who took some time off. I had forgotten what a full-time job that was! Customers often tell us how peaceful and beautiful our store is, but that is only because they don't usually step foot in the receiving room where there is non-stop hustle, bustle and dust (le). It does my heart good to be back on the floor, talking and writing about good books . I read several while I was down on the damp Oregon coast huddled next to our roaring camp fire or wrapped in a blanket in our van. This was not the Oregon I have known and loved. This was a foggy, gray, drizzly soup. Never mind. Onward to the books! Good news from the book world! Lisa Samson has just written a new book, Resurrection in May . Once again she tackles unpopular subjects: genocide, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, (after that holiday I'm seriously considering succumbing

Staycations & Vacations

Summer is such a great time for catching up on the stack of books beside your bed. I read an article on CNN the other day referring to "staycations". For those of us staying close to home this summer, there is nothing like a lounge chair on the back porch, a long drink of ice cold root beer and all those novels you have been meaning to read on the TV tray beside you. I'm going to be taking my book bag with me on a road trip down the Oregon coast in the next few weeks. My husband describes my ideal camping experience as: campfire, books, chai tea, books, s'mores, books, red licorice, books, long tramps along the shore, books, steamed clams and mussels, books....well, I'm sure you can see where my interests lie! I tell friends that summer holidays for me are like cleaning out the lint filter in the dryer. Can't wait! Rick's latest fiction favourite is coming with me. Title: Danger Close Author: William G. Boykin I read William "Jerry&qu

The Stuff of Nightmares

One of the many reasons that I love working at the House of James is that I have the privilege of working with colleagues of varying ages. The 18-30 year olds keep me on my toes (which is very good exercise) and the more mature staff teach me life skills! The following post is by Jordan, one of the "toes types". Ted Dekker has gone and done it again. Boneman's Daughters is another great piece of thrilling literature that catches the reader from the start and doesn't let go until the end. A warning about this book, and his next one titled The Bride Collector , must be stated before I continue to tell you about the story. This is not a book for the squeamish, faint-hearted or easily disturbed. Dekker has always paid high attention to details and this book stays true to form, so much so that at some points you may feel as though you can actually see and hear what is happening. Remember however, this is just a work of fiction and none of it is based on actual eve

A Fellow Pilgrim

I love Philip Yancey, a self-proclaimed “fellow pilgrim”. Oh all right, all you literalists, I love his books. I think he is one of today's finest authors. He is smart, philosophically wise, well-read, an ardent follower of Jesus, an avid student of the Bible, and, he is able to articulate the unspoken questions of my heart. He says that he writes to resolve things that are bothering him. Evidently an awful lot of us are bothered by the same things he is! Four of his books have sold over 1,000,000 copies each. I read Disappointment with God during a black time of personal upheaval many years ago, and Rumors of Another World (now titled A Skeptic's Guide to Faith ) during a more recent crisis. My husband especially appreciates What's So Amazing about Grace? Grace Notes , published in 2009, is a compilation of Yancey's best writings, culled from his books as well as from his writings for the magazine Christianity Today . I bought a copy for myself as well as f

Fruitcake and Ice Cream

Always leery of bandwagons, I hate jumping on just because everybody else is. But when a large church in the Fraser Valley ordered 10 of the bestselling Heart of Passion DVD series by Louie Giglio, curiosity soon overcame my initial reluctance. Besides, the titles of the individual episodes intrigued me. “Fruitcake and Ice Cream”? “Indescribable”? One of my hats here at the store is the oversight of the “general entertainment, family-type” dvds. I detest mediocrity and shoddy workmanship and am always on the lookout for dvds of quality that I can recommend whole- heartedly and without reservation. The Heart of Passion not only meets but exceeds my high standards. It is a marvelous portrayal and testimony of our magnificent God. My husband, a most manly man, weeps each time he watches any one of the 5 episodes included on the 4 disks. We have viewed them again and again by ourselves, with friends, and with our care goups. Louie Giglio, the narrator, is an enormously gifted a

Life, In Spite of Me

Adelle reviewed this book by Kristen Anderson at a recent staff meeting and all of us were immediately drawn in to the story. Read her thoughts for yourself to find out why. "I rarely read biographies. This book drew me in. The sheer joy on Kristen's face on the cover caused me to pause every time I walked by the shelf (which was often on the way to the back room) . Finally picking the book up... I then could not put it down. Written with fiction author Tricia Goyer (one of my favs) this is a powerful easy reading account. Having a fairly normal uneventful childhood, Kristen's life changes in her teens as 3 friends and her grandmother pass away within a 2 year span. To top it off, she was raped by someone she considered a friend. From there she spirals into depression and partying. After being grounded 'until further notice' one New Year's Eve, she ends up at the nearby train yard contemplating her self worth. Without even really realizing it, sh

Tools for Talking

One of the best things about working at the House of James is that we do not sell egg-beaters. I love working in a retail environment that provides and promotes products that have life-changing potential. “Change your mind, change your life” is one of my mantras. Since becoming a retailer 14 years ago, I have attended many self-improvement seminars. Resources and tools have been made available for me to become a savvier manager, a more understanding colleague, an increasingly productive employee, a friendlier salesperson. Easily muddled by visual and sensory overload, I learned long ago that I will not be able to grasp and assimilate 100% of the data deluging me. Best to come away with just one nugget gleaned, one paramount truth, one new practice. This coping mechanism stood me in good stead as I worked my way through the book Crucial Conversations late last year. The four authors themselves suggest that you read, practice, read, practice. The sub-title is “Tools for

Son of Hamas

Denise is the book purchaser for the House of James and when she recommends a book, it is well worth paying attention. She told me that the following was this year's favorite read.. Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef "It seems as though each day we receive news from the Middle bombs, death, fighting over a tiny strip of land, poverty, war...the list is long. Often I have found myself wondering why these people cannot come to some kind of agreement and stop fighting, their children are growing up in war zones for crying out loud. We argue about the politics and we send peacekeeping troops but few of us have been able to penetrate this world we do not understand. It is a well known fact that I love biographies. They offer insight to places I may never get to go otherwise. Sometimes they are filled with encouragement, sometimes they offer us a different perspective. Son of Hamas has helped me gain insight and understanding to a world I

Sacred Dance of Grief & Joy

When staff member Linda first told me about this book, I couldn't help noticing how passionate she was. I believe you will understand why after you read both her review as well as the book itself. And don't forget to click on the youtube link at the end of her post. "After watching an interview with Angie and Todd Smith (Todd is the lead singer of the group Selah), I knew that I needed to read the book I Will Carry You . I needed to be able to understand such grace and faith in the face of such a tragedy. With beautiful honesty, Angie tells their story, of being 18 weeks pregnant, of learning that their beautiful baby girl had conditions leaving her "incompatible with life", and of being strongly advised to terminate the pregnancy. Together they decided to carry baby Audrey as long as God chose to give her life. They spent the next 3 months loving a little girl not expected to draw a breath. Audrey Caroline defied the odds, and lived over two hour

Why We Love the Church

Central Heights Church has the dubious distinction of being the church where the floor collapsed during a Starfield concert almost 2 and 1/2 years ago. It happens to also be the place that I have called my "home church" for the past 34 years. Yesterday was a banner day for us as we celebrated together in the repaired Worship Center for the first time since April 2008. I was not an official "greeter", but I chose to stand at one of the entrances and welcome folks. We have not all been together in one place at one time for so many months that I felt a great longing to re-connect with fellow worshippers and to celebrate with as many people as possible. Handshakes and hugs marked our mutual sense of thanksgiving and joy. Very appropriately, Why We Love the Church by Kevin Deyoung and Ted Kluck has been my current non-fiction favourite for the past few weeks. These are the same two guys that wrote Why We're Not Emergent a couple of years ago. On the back of

Grandmothers Rock

I began to realize that grandparents were a breed apart when my mother wouldn't use the present I bought her. “My grandkids are smarter than your grandkids!” read the cute bumper sticker I thought she would affix with alacrity onto the rear bumper of her van. Apparently this was just asking for trouble on California's freeways. “People shoot for less than that!” Now that I am a grandmother, I understand. Even my theology has shifted. That whole sin nature business was a big question mark until the 2nd birthday. I would explain behavioral glitches as environmental, not organic. But one thing was a given from day one. These children would LOVE TO READ. Other loving relations bought cute furry crib dwellers, flashy rattles or cozy sleepers. This grammy prepared for the imminent arrival by laying in a selection of reading material. As the tummy extended, the stack in my bedroom grew taller. Bible stories, animal alphabets, glossy paged tales, pop-ups, fold-outs, 3 dimen

New Fiction - Rick's Picks

At lunch today, a colleague and I discussed what we were reading. Rick waxed so eloquent about two new fiction books he had just finished that I immediately asked him to send me reviews for today's post. His comments certainly piqued my interest. Title: The Galilean Secret Author: Evan Drake Howard "This is a book that combines historical fiction with Biblical history, mixed with a contemporary suspense and romance thriller. That may sound confusing, but it's a fairly straight forward plot, so a serious reader will have no problem keeping everything straight. It also carries a specific theological viewpoint that I found fascinating. It is paced evenly enough so that you are not bogged down in historical detail, nor reeling from the shifts between the first and twenty-first century. I expected to find some aspects of the story that were suspect from a biblical perspective, but Howard steers away from this and gives us the history from a very solid, evangelical

Could It Happen?

Friday morning found me in the waiting room of the eye doctor. Diagnosis? Corneal abrasion. Ugh. And even further ugh was the conclusion that the surface of my eyes is eroding. I shrieked when I heard that ominous word "erode". "Please don't use those two words (eye and erode) in the same sentence!" But my doctor was quite firm. After decades of wearing rigid contact lenses, we needed to make some changes. After my appointment, I charged right back to the store and grabbed a handful of books that I had been meaning to read. If my reading days were numbered, I was going to go down reading! So many good books to read, and so little time! But at least I got to read this one. The Last Christian by David Gregory took only part of this weekend to read and that's because I read faster and faster to find out what on earth was going to happen. Gregory is the author of other books I have often recommended, Dinner with a Perfect Stranger , A Day with a Perfe