Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Melting Pot

Much like America with all of its cultures and beliefs and ideas, a bookstore is a melting pot.  A Christian bookstore carries materials for multiple denominations in one place bringing unity to the Body of Christ.  It is then up to each individual what mix they decide to purchase and pay heed to.  We can jump into the world of fiction and learn from these modern-day parables.  Or we can read those things that challenge and invigorate us to step out in our faith.  We can choose biographies and see how God has intervened in the lives of others to bring joy and hope.  We can decide that we only wish to read those books that will further solidify our viewpoint on particular theologies or topics.  Or we can read opposing viewpoints and stretch our minds to accept our brothers and sisters in Christ even if we don't necessarily agree with them.

The bookstore has a culture of honor and unity, which is what Jesus prayed for his followers in John 17.  That they would be one as He and the Father are one.  I don't necessarily agree with everything we carry in our store.  I couldn't.  I would either have very few books or very mixed up theology.  But I will honor and carry materials for each denomination: Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Assembly of God, Charismatic, Church of Christ, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Evangelical Free, and so forth.  And if this list makes you angry or upset, you are not alone.  It frustrates me to see so much division in the Body of Christ.  How can His hands care for the poor and hungry if His arms are in disagreement with the direction the hands need to go?


As Philip Yancey pointed out in his book, What's So Amazing About Grace?: what would happen if we stopped focusing on the small percentage of theologies that we don't agree on and focused on the things that we, as Christians, do agree on?  That Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  He died on the cross and rose again that we might be saved and set free from the bondage of sin.  That He is coming again someday.  That the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our mind and all of our strength and the second is to love our neighbor as ourself.

We have some great ministries in the Rochester area that have bridged the gap between denominations and brought churches, pastors, and their congregations together to make a difference.  TEAM Rochester for one with a prayer ministry and In His Name Food Distribution.  New Life Family Services advocating for life and hope.  Youth for Christ reaching into our schools and helping teens learn that they are valued.  Mission 21 advocating for and rescuing victims of human trafficking.  CareFest bringing so many people together to care for our schools and parks and to represent Christ to our teachers, school boards, principals, and local government workers.  And Christian Book & Gift Shop providing materials to help believers grow in their faith and praying with those in need.

My heart is that our store is a haven of Christ's love for everyone who steps through our doors.  It has been for many in the past.  The staff and I have been privileged to pray for people who are visiting the Mayo Clinic due to illness, for individuals facing divorce or separation and looking for hope, for job situations, for mothers and fathers, for pastors and churches, and many, many other needs and requests.

We might not always be able to beat Amazon's prices but I can guarantee you that we do not carry pornography or other harmful materials.  So is it worth it to you to pay a few dollars more to keep a ministry available to those in need?  Will CBD or Amazon pray with their customers when they are in need?  Will they be there to take prayer requests and lift those requests to the Lord in staff meetings and at the start of each day?

So will it be a haven for you or a place to argue?  A place to encounter God?  I hope so.  I hope that you experience His Peace that surpasses understanding.  That you find exactly the right book or gift or resource for you.  And if you want to come with a friend and discuss ideas that sounds good too.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mommy Corner: Activities and Recommendations

Dear Moms,

I have some very fond memories of my childhood and the things that my parents did to make it more special.  When my siblings and I were growing up my mom (and sometimes my dad) would read to us every night at bedtime.  It instilled a love of reading and books in me at a young age (it also made it impossible for me to listen to books on CD while driving if I want to stay awake).  I particularly remember a character building book for kids that had ladybugs on every page, we would turn it into an "I Spy" game and see how many ladybugs we could find.  Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was another of my favorites.

Another great memory is when Dad would spontaneously announce from time to time that it was "Kids' Day"!  He would call the school to inform them that we would not be coming in that day and we would drive up to the Twin Cities to visit the Science, Children's, and Bell Museums or the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.  We probably learned more on those days than if we had gone to school even though we were having so much fun we weren't aware of it.

At Christian Book & Gift, we have great resources to help instill good values, a love for reading, and fond memories in your kids as well.  Some of my favorites include:

The Treasure Tree by John Trent and Gary Smalley: go on a great adventure with four best friends with very different personalities.  This book celebrates the different personality strengths and teamwork.

47 Beavers on the Big Blue Sea by Phil Vischer: a really fun story sure to delight.

My Favorite Verses series by Dandi Daley Mackall: picture books that are each centered on a particular book or passage such as the Armor of God, the Beatitudes, the Love Chapter, the Great Commission, and so forth.

The Treasure Tree: Helping Kids Get Along and Enjoy Each Other

The Armor of God: I Can Be Strong When I Put on

Sidney and Norman also by Phil Vischer: this is an amazing book about God's love and how it can give us purpose and joy and compassion.

Halfway Herbert by Francis Chan: his book Crazy Love in story form for kids.  He has also written Forgotten God in a picture book format: The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village.

If You Give a Boy a Bible by Andy Holmes: written in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie this book is a fun ride through the Bible through the lens of a boy's imagination.

Sidney & Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs

Those are just some of the great books available at our store.  We also offer Storytime every Monday at 10:15 am with Miss Kristin and Mr. Guitar.  And our Summer Reading Club begins June 1.  Let us help you create fond childhood memories for your kids.

Emily Jo
Children's Department Manager

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jesus Calling

People worldwide have highly benefited from reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It is a wonderful devotional that was inspired by A.J. Russell's classic God Calling.  Our staff has used Jesus Calling for a few years now.  We have read it in our staff meetings and daily devotion and prayer time.  It is so amazing how God uses it to speak to each and every one of us with the same words on the same day in very different ways.  He meets us exactly where we are and draws us near to Him.

Jesus Calling remains the most popular of Sarah Young's books because of its daily format.  However, her other devotionals are also wonderful books and enjoyed by many.  Dear Jesus is the only one of Sarah's books to include a prayer from us to God.  Jesus Lives focuses on the theme of God's love for us.  And Sarah's most recent release Jesus Today is a message of hope, particularly for those facing illness or pain.  All three contain a topical index.

Also available: Jesus Calling Teen Edition, Jesus Calling for Kids, and the Jesus Calling Bible Storybook.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

That First Christmas Night

It was a night like most other nights.  And yet . . . there was a charge or energy in the air that no one could really attribute to any one thing.  Maybe it was a change in the weather.  Or perhaps it was the Emperor's decree.  Bethlehem was packed beyond capacity with people from all over the Jewish world.  Every bed was filled at every inn in town.  The homes of relatives and friends had every available pull out couch and air mattress set up and occupied.

Mary and Joseph's journey had been long, made more difficult by Mary's condition.  They arrived in Bethlehem too late to secure proper lodging but the innkeeper took pity on them and gave them a space in his stable.  It wasn't long before Mary began to cry out into the stillness of the night as the pains of labor ever increased.  Perhaps the lowing of a cow or the bleating of a sheep also pierced the air but mostly it was a quiet night lacking traffic sounds or iPods or Christmas movie marathons.

As Mary panted and cried out in the pain of her effort, all of creation held its breath.  Waiting . . . for that first cry.  For the Promised One.  And then . . . there it was!  A baby crying out in the silence of the night.  As Mary's breathing slowed to normal the baby was cleaned up, wrapped up like the precious gift that he was and handed to his mother.  She smiled through her exhaustion truly filled with joy and a love that she had never felt before.
And as Mary's heart nearly burst for joy, all creation burst into song.  Angels burst into praise!  A message rang out across the earth in a way that had never been told before.  The promise is fulfilled!  The Anointed One has come!

And so it began . . . a new story, a new covenant.  A baby came to usher in a Kingdom.  His message to all of mankind still rings out today:
"I love you.  I created you.  I chose you before you were even a twinkle in your mother's eye.  I set you apart.  I rejoice over you with singing.  I came so that you may have life, and that more abundant.  You cannot earn my love.  It is a gift.  Freely given as I lay down my life for you.  My grace is sufficient for you.  Nothing you have done can separate you from my extravagant love.  Nothing you will ever do can make me love you more.  I see you forgiven, set free, and as royalty.  You are my child.  My masterpiece.  I listen to you.  I answer your cries.  You are the reason I came."

The stillness of the night made it seem as if creation was holding its breath.  But that silence was shattered as the angels sang out so loudly they scared several shepherds and their flocks.  A young woman cried out and then a babe added his voice as he was welcomed into the world.  So, now, 2,000 years later we add our voices to this cacophony of praise.  We can only say:

"Praise the One who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb.  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace you are welcome here.  Be glorified in our lives.  Be found deep within us.  We give you praise and honor and blessing because of all that you have done!  Thank you, dear Jesus, and . . . Happy Birthday."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Live Worship at CB&G

This summer we are starting what I hope will become an old tradition: live worship at CB&G.  So throughout the summer we will have different worship leaders from Rochester and the surrounding areas lead about an hour of worship on Friday nights.  Tonight we had Amber Allen with Courtney and Machell in the store.  It was a beautiful night of worship.  Three beautiful women, voices blending in perfect harmony, as we entered into God's presence.

I was so blessed to paint while we worshiped together.  The painting I did is titled, "Heaven Invading Earth" and it represents God's presence pouring down as we worship him.  His light cuts through the darkness like a knife and drives it out of the earth. His glory falls like leaves in the autumn delivering new life and joy.

I look forward to many more nights like this one.  God is doing a new thing in our store, in our community, and in our lives.  Praise the Lord!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Maid of Fairbourne Hall

Yesterday after work I headed to one of my favorite restaurants for dinner and pulled out the book I've been carrying around with me just in case I have a few minutes to myself.  Currently, I am reading The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen.  I spent some time over dinner reading, then went next door to Caribou for a cup of tea and more reading time.

After that I headed home and quickly settled in.  I did a few things but couldn't wait to get back to my book.  I kept reading a chapter and then checking the time to see how close it was to when I needed to turn off the light and go to sleep.  But I couldn't put it down.  Finally, even though I still have about a third of the book left to read, I decided I really had to go to bed so I would be able to get up for work in the morning (it was about 1 - 2 hours after I usually would turn in).

I really enjoy Julie Klassen's books.  She does great research and she weaves what she learns into each story beautifully.  Her books are set in Jane Austen's England and each is filled with plenty of mystery to keep you guessing.  I hope she reaches her goal of writing two books per year instead of one.

I can't wait to get done with work today so I can go home and finish The Maid of Fairbourne Hall.  I am truly enjoying learning about life as a 19th century servant and all of the goings-on in an English manor.  I would definitely recommend all of Julie Klassen's books.  They are delightful!

From the publisher's website, here is a little about each of Julie's books:

Sprinkled with fascinating details about the lives of women in Regency England, Lady of Milkweed Manor is a moving romantic drama about the redemption of past failings and the beauty of sacrificial love.

The Apothecary's Daughter dives into the world of doctors and apothecaries (pharamicists of old) while following Lilly in her quest for truth and adventure.

Moving, mysterious, and romantic, The Silent Governess takes readers inside the intriguing life of a nineteenth-century governess in an English manor house where all is not as it appears.

Intriguing, mysterious, and romantic, The Girl in the Gatehouse takes readers inside the life of a secret authoress at a time when novel-writing was considered improper for ladies and the smallest hint of impropriety could change a woman's life forever.

Brimming with romance and danger, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall takes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Resorts of Minnesota

We've been so blessed with a beautiful spring this year in Minnesota.  It has me thinking about summer and lakes and the great outdoors.  I really enjoy driving over to Lake City and watching the sailboats out on the lake.  There is something so peaceful and serene about the scene.  I savor stopping at Rabbit's Bakery for a yummy sandwich and a cup of tea (fair trade).  And I usually meander through the antique shop across the street and browse through all the treasures of old.

A few years ago, I was blessed to be able to spend some time at a friend's cabin up near Brainerd.  It is on Thunder Bay north of Emily and Outing.  It was September and a bit cool but still very beautiful.  In the mornings everything was very still and a slight fog sat on the water.  Occasionally, I could hear a splash as a fish jumped out of the water, eating bugs for breakfast I would guess.

A dream of mine is to own a cabin on Lake Emily some day.  Why Emily?  Well, it is a fabulous name for one.  And it is a beautiful part of the state also.  The forests and the lakes are a bit of change from the cornfields and towns located in the southern part of Minnesota.  I dream of writing and resting and retreating from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

So as you plan for your summer vacations and start dreaming about the possibilities think about staying close to home on a Minnesota lake.  Neil Johnson has written a really great book that celebrates the people and places in Minnesota that we love so much.  Resorts of Minnesota tells the stories of families all over the state and the heritage and history of their resorts.  So whether you journey to a cabin this year or spend some time out on the lake fishing or skiiing, you can always take a trip through the written word.