Archive for August 26th, 2011

August 26, 2011

Religious Book Sales Up In 2010



Sales of religious books saw a major turnaround last year, rising 12.5% after declining 10.6% in 2009, according to the new landmark statistical survey by the Association of American Publishers and Book Industry Study Group.

Sales for the religious segment—in all print and digital formats—totaled $1.35 billion in 2010, said the joint report, released this week.

Incorporating net sales revenue and unit data from more than 1,100 U.S. publishers, BookStats is billed as the most comprehensive evaluation and analysis of the book industry, with information covering 2008-2010.

The report revealed that publishers’ net sales revenue was $27.9 billion in 2010, a 5.6% increase from 2008. Additionally, publishers’ 2.57 billion net units sold last year represented a 4.1% increase since 2008.

“The study indicates that the publishing industry is healthy and growing during a time of unprecedented change,” said Dominique Raccah, founder and CEO of Sourcebooks and chair of the BookStats committee. “Publishers have made significant investments in content and technology to better serve their audiences’ needs, and those efforts seem to correlate with the results we’re seeing.”

Click here for more information, and to purchase the complete BookStats.

August 26, 2011




Nothing is more difficult for us to get our minds around than the unconditional grace of God.

It offends our deepest sensibilities. We are actually conditioned against unconditionality–we are told in a thousand different ways that accomplishment precedes acceptance and achievement precedes approval.

Society demands two-way love. Everything’s conditional; if you achieve only then will you receive: meaning, security, respect, love, and so on. But grace, as Paul Zahl points out, is one-way love, “Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable.”

Like Job’s friends, we naturally conclude that good people get good stuff and bad people get bad stuff. The idea that bad people get good stuff is thickly counterintuitive; it seems terribly unfair and offends our sense of justice. Even those of us who have tasted the radical saving grace of God find it intuitively difficult not to put conditions on grace. The truth is that a “yes grace, but” posture is the kind of posture that perpetuates slavery in our lives and in the church.

Grace is radically unbalanced. It has no “but”; it’s unconditional, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and undomesticated. As Doug Wilson put it recently, “Grace is wild. Grace unsettles everything. Grace overflows the banks. Grace messes up your hair. Grace is not tame. In fact, unless we are making the devout nervous, we are not preaching grace as we ought.”

With this in mind, let’s look at Luke 7:36-50. This is the famous account of the sinful woman (most likely a prostitute) barging into a party of religious leaders and washing the feet of Jesus with her tears of repentance. Two rescues are happening in this passage: the obvious rescue of the immoral person but also the rescue of the moral person.


Normally, when we think of people in need of God’s rescuing grace, we think of the unrighteous and the immoral. But, what’s fascinating to me is, throughout the Bible, the immoral person gets the gospel before the moral person. It’s the prostitute who gets grace and the Pharisee who doesn’t. What we see in this story is God’s grace wrecks and then rescues, not only the promiscuous, but also the pious.

The Pharisee in this story can’t understand what Jesus is doing by allowing this woman to touch him because he assumes that God is for the clean and competent. But Jesus shows God is for the unclean and incompetent, and when measured against God’s perfect holiness, we’re all unclean and incompetent. Jesus shows the Pharisee the gospel isn’t for winners, but losers. It’s for the weak and messed-up person, not the strong and mighty person. It’s not for the well-behaved, but the dead.

Remember: Jesus came not to put into effect a moral reformation but a mortal resurrection (moral reformations can, and have, taken place throughout history without Jesus. But only Jesus can raise the dead, over and over and over again). As Gerhard Forde put it, “Christianity is not the move from vice to virtue, but rather the move from virtue to grace.”

Wrecking every religious category he had, Jesus tells the Pharisee he has a lot to learn from the prostitute, not the other way around.


The prostitute, on the other hand, walks into a party of religious people and falls at the feet of Jesus without any care as to what others are thinking and saying. She’s at the end of herself. More than wanting to avoid an uncomfortable situation, she wanted to be clean–she needed to be forgiven. She was acutely aware of her guilt and shame. She knew she needed help. She understood at a profound level that God’s grace doesn’t demand you get clean before you come to Jesus. Rather, our only hope for getting clean is to come to Jesus.

Only in the Gospel does love precede loveliness. Everywhere else loveliness precedes love.


What the Pharisee, the prostitute, and everyone in-between need to remember every day is that Christ offers forgiveness full and free from both our self-righteous goodness and our unrighteous badness. This is the hardest thing for us to believe as Christians. We think it’s a mark of spiritual maturity to hang on to our guilt and shame. We’ve sickly concluded that the worse we feel, the better we actually are. The declaration of Psalm 103:12 is the most difficult for us to grasp and embrace: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Or, as Corrie ten Boom once said, “God takes our sins—the past, present, and future—and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says ‘No Fishing Allowed.’” This seems too good to be true…it can’t be that simple, that easy, that real!


It is true! No strings attached. No but’s. No conditions. No need for balance. If you are a Christian, you are right now under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Your pardon is full and final. In Christ, you’re forgiven. You’re clean. It is finished.

August 26, 2011


This week’s tweet of the week comes Dr. Tony Evans who tweeted:

“God is not opposed to greatness. God is opposed to pride. Big difference. God wants you to be great!”

Preach on, preacher.

August 26, 2011

K-LOVE, AIR1 listeners give nearly $2 million for Compassion safe water systems in Africa



Amid fears of an economic crisis, listeners of national Christian radio stations, K-Love and Air1 donated nearly $2 million in a daylong campaign to provide Compassion’s Water of Life safe water systems to those living in extreme poverty in Rwanda.

K-Love and Air1 focused on the immense need for safe water in Rwanda where 60% of the population lives below the poverty line. In addition, more than one-third of the population is without improved drinking water sources and nearly half are without improved sanitation facilities.

“The money raised will provide over 35,000 Compassion children and their families with safe drinking water for the rest of their lives,” said Mark Hanlon, Compassion’s SVP, USA.

“Thanks to the tremendous generosity of the K-Love and Air1 listeners, these kids and their families will never have to worry about diseases from unsafe drinking water,” Hanlon said.

“God continues to bless K-LOVE and Air 1 with a large stage from which to spread His word. We feel that part of being a good steward is to share this stage with like-minded ministries,” said Mike Novak, president and CEO of K-Love and Air 1.

“Compassion and the ‘Water of Life’ campaign was a natural fit. The K-LOVE and Air 1 listeners blessed about 35,000 families in Rwanda with these remarkable life-giving water filters, by donating $1.9 million to Compassion in a one-day event. To that, I say, ‘Praise God,'” Novak said.

Though economic reports threatened to reduce donor generosity, over 19,000 people gave an average of $90 to provide the systems. Air1 also initiated a pledge drive where a major donor agreed to provide a Compassion Water of Life system for Haiti for each person who signed up as a recurring donor to the station. As a result, 2,600 additional water systems were made available.

The benefits of safe water have more than health implications. It is also a financial issue.

“The direct result of safe water for families means that fewer resources will be needed to treat illnesses. And when children are healthy, they can go to school,” said Hanlon. “Safe water seems like such a simple thing, but for children in living in poverty in countries like Rwanda, it has the power to bring practical change through improved health and education.”

Compassion International is the world’s largest Christian child development organization that permanently releases children from poverty. Founded in 1952, Compassion successfully tackles global poverty one child at a time, serving more than 1.2 million children in 26 of the world’s poorest countries. Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works through local churches to holistically address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children—enabling them to thrive, not just survive. Compassion has been awarded 10 consecutive, four-star ratings by Charity Navigator, America’s largest charity evaluator.

August 26, 2011


Martin Smith sits down to talk about the best approach to writing Christian songs that will resonate with people for many years to come.

August 26, 2011




Acoustic duo Shane & Shane is partnering with Fair Trade Services for its first studio release in two years, The One You Need. Available Oct. 4, the project’s debut single and title track is currently impacting Christian AC, CHR and Inspirational Radio.

After a brief hiatus from recording, Shane Barnard and Shane Everett have returned to the studio with two years worth of new material, all self-written and self-produced. The duo, who has been playing together for 13 years, has joined efforts with Fair Trade Services, home to top artists including The Afters, MercyMe, and Derek Webb, for its latest album.

“Shane and I are so excited about our new record label Fair Trade Services,” says Everett. “It feels amazing to have a team around us who is not only concerned about selling records but also about the Gospel moving forward through song!!! We love these guys.”

The Shanes, now both married with children, created this latest record through the lens of fatherhood and community. In fact, Barnard penned the title track—a poignant letter from daddy to daughter—a week before his daughter Lucy was born. Having also recently assumed the role of worship pastors at their local church, The One You Need additionally contains songs intended to minister to those hurting around them.

“For the first time, we’ve been in community; and when you’re in community, you see the hurt,” Everett explains. “Being on staff has been an eye opening experience for us, rubbing shoulders with broken hurting people helps us not only in our own struggles, but lets us know how to pray and how much we desperately need it.”

Preceding the record’s release is lead single, “The One You Need,” which went for adds at radio July 22. Shane & Shane wrapped a national promotional tour in support of the single earlier this month. Watch Part I and Part II of their road trip at and The duo also filmed a music video for the song, which will premiere on GodTube Aug. 4. Additional details are forthcoming. For more information on Shane & Shane and The One You Need,

Shane Everett and Shane Barnard formed the duo, Shane & Shane, after meeting at Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas in the late 90’s. Since then, the acoustic-guitar wielding pair has become a college-circuit favorite with six label releases to its credit, and countless hours logged on the road, including tours alongside Bethany Dillon, David Crowder Band and Robbie Seay Band, among others. In total, the band’s career sales exceed half a million units. Follow Shane & Shane at