Thursday, July 21, 2005

Book Review: Prayer: The Cry For The Kingdom

If you are looking for a concise, quick read on the concept of prayer, Prayer: The Cry For The Kingdom is your book. This repackage of a Stanley Grenz book from the late 80's is a great introduction for a new believer but is also an excellent reminder to the rest of us of what prayer actually is and is not. As the DJ's used to say in the 50's - this is "all killer, no filler." In other words, there is no unnecessary content here to pad the size of the book. Grenz says in 124 pages what others have taken 300+ pages to say.

Grenz' basic thesis is that prayer is more than simply "talking to God" as we so often hear these days. In prayer we "beseech the God of the future with the request that the marks of God's rule (forgiveness, sustenance, deliverance, and the Sprit's fullness) break into our present situation, which is filled with want, need, and insufficiency." He adds, "To pray is to say to God, 'Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.'" Prayer is not about our wants; it is about the in-breaking of God’s kingdom here and now, not as some sort of ethereal future concept. Again quoting Grenz, “in every circumstance our primary goal as we pray should be to discern what it would mean for the kingdom to break into the present.”

Some of the chapter titles (i.e.: How Petitionary Prayer Works, How To Pray According to God’s Will) might make this seem like just another “prayer for dummies” kind of book, but don’t be fooled. This is a thoughtful look at prayer by an intellectual theologian with a pastor’s heart. Highly recommended! YYYY

NOTE: Stanley Grenz died unexpectedly on March 12th this year. See Brian McLaren's blog for an excellent tribute.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Show - Day Three

Day three was much like day two - meetings, meetings, and more meetings. Today I met with Relevant which was like a breath of fresh air in terms of the creative ways they are promoting their books and magazine. To a certain degree they are flying by the seat of their pants because they don't have a lot of experience in CBA but it is that same inexperience that makes for some fresh ways of thinking and getting their products into the marketplace. They have a very bright future ahead of them. From there it was off to Strang, Hendrickson, and QuickVerse who have made a very generous offer for us Canadians that you'll hear about soon.

This was my last day on the show floor and it is good to be done. There is a lot of pressure to be "on" at all times, whether you are in a meeting, eating lunch, or going out for an evening stroll. From the time you leave your room in the morning until you get back at night it is "showtime." I get a real buzz from being "on" but at the end of the day it does take a lot out of you. That being said, there is also a touch of sadness when you leave because there is a certain energy at an event like this with so many publishers, authors, musicians, and new products in one place.

Tonight I'll take in a bit of downtown Denver then Tim and I are off to Colorado Springs in the morning for a day of vacation before heading home on Friday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Show - Day Two

I don't have a lot to report tonight. This has been a day of one meeting after another with publishers to discuss a variety of issues. We met with Crossway, Eerdmans, and Living Epistles, all of whom are great to work with so although we are discussing sales figures and promotional opportunities, the meetings have a very positive atmosphere.

Living Epistles was especially good because the 'God Keep Our Land' shirt we developed almost doubled our sales in one month! If you click on this link to go to the 100 Huntley Street video archives then click on the link for July 1st, you can find the video where Ann Mainse showed the shirt on air (around the 20 minute mark.)

One note for all of you future travelers to Denver...if you're looking for a Starbucks in the downtown core, they all close up at 7:00 so you can forget about a nice relaxing evening latte! Am I bitter? Nah...well...maybe...

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Show - Day One Continued (again)

We all attended the ECPA Gold Medallion Awards tonight. It's sort of the Oscars of Christian publishing without the glitz, parties, designer dresses, celebrities, and excitement.'s actually quite a boring affair that lasts almost as long as the Oscars! Winners are picked in 20 different categories (see the winners list here) and a small plaque is given to each of the authors in attendance. The highlights for me we're hearing Philip Yancey speak and a video from Rick Warren about some of the work he and his wife are doing in Rwanda. I know Warren has his critics but he is just such an incredibly normal and sincere guy just doing what God has called him to do that you've got to respect him.

The Show - Day One Continued

One of the fun parts of the convention is meeting some of the authors and artists who are doing book or CD signings. There's not a lot of time for us to do this because we have a fairly heavy schedule of meetings but there's usually one or two opportunities during the day. Of course, being a distributor, and a professional, you're not expected to get too excited over these events but it's hard not to when there are such huge lineups and flashbulbs going off everywhere. Here you see Rebecca St. James having her photo taken with a young fan (my camera doesn't take indoor shots very well so you'll have to excuse the blurriness.) I also said hi to R.C. Sproul today whose book The Holiness of God was one of those seminal, life-changing books for me. R.C. is definitely in my pantheon of great authors.

I had a chance to chat with Ron & Ann Mainse from 100 Huntley Street this afternoon and I'm pleased to say that they are really nice folks. They're down here looking to make connections with authors and publishers that would make good guests on the program and we are only too happy to help them out in that mission!

The Show - Day One

The show officially opened today with much fanfare and a ribbon cutting ceremony. It's hard to describe how large the show floor is and it's even more difficult to get a photo that illustrates the size so I've taken a couple of booth shots (my suppliers of course!) to give you an idea of the scale. Not every booth is as big as this, but most of the major publishers have a significant presence. Here you can see the Crossway booth.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rob Bell

I had most of the afternoon free after the brunch and spent it walking around downtown Denver in search of two of my favorite destinations - Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. Success on both accounts!

It hit 94 degrees here today but as they say, it's a dry heat so it doesn't seem to melt you like it would in southern Ontario as long as you drink lots of water. My first time in Colorado I ignored the advice of my friend Don over at Alive Communications and hardly drank any water for the first two days I was here. By the morning of day three I had a wicked headache, my lips were cracked, and I had lost most of my voice.

I just got in from a worship concert with Newsong, Tim Hughes, and Kathy Troccoli. I must be getting old because the main attraction for me wasn't the music but the speaker for the night, Rob Bell whom most people know from the Nooma series of videos. He's also the pastor at Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bell spoke about the importance of moving from a destination mindset, where either you are in or out of the Kingdom to a "clicks" mindset where everyone is on a journey of faith that can be measured in little clicks along the way to God. Some people make the leap to faith very quickly, for others it take years, and still others will never come to embrace Jesus personally. As believers our role isn't to have all the answers but to simply help others make it to the next "click" on the journey and to keep moving along in that journey ourselves.

Author Brunch

Attended another "insider" event this morning - the Harvest House author's brunch. This is an annual event that Harvest House hosts each year with about a dozen of their authors in attendance. There's no big autograph session, no hoopla, just having brunch and hanging out with some key authors. It's a good time to meet with them and establish some connections to further Canadian publicity. I don't get too involved in the publicity side of things, so as the primary Canadian contact for Harvest House I act more as a host at this event, introducing the rest of our team around.

We met up with Lori Wick, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Elizabeth & Jim George, Siri Mitchell, and Lysa TerKeurst. All of these folks are really nice without the "author attitude" that you sometimes run into at these events. Lysa's story about adopting two orphans from Liberia was really touching. If you ever have a chance to see her on TV or in person I suggest you do it. Hopefully we'll see more of her in Canada soon!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Christy Awards

I just got back in from attending the Christy Awards, the ceremony honouring the best in Christian fiction from the previous year. The event was more of an industry insider event than a wide-open event for all convention attendees so there were a ton of authors, publishers, and literary agents in the room. Jerry Jenkins was the host and did a good job - he's far funnier than you might expect for a guy who wrote the Left Behind series!

The winners list:
General: Bad Ground by W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House)
Historical: King's Ransom by Jan Beazely & Thom Lemmons (Waterbrook Press)
Romance: Secrets by Kristen Heitzman (Bethany House)
Suspense/Mystery: Tiger In The Shadows by Debbie Wilson (Kregal)
Visionary: The Shadow Within by Karen Hancock (Bethany House)
First Novel: The Mending String by Cliff Coon (Moody Publishers)

Things To Do In Denver...

I'm down in Denver for the next week attending the International Christian Retail Show, formerly known as the Christian Booksellers Association International Convention. I thought it would be fun to keep a journal of each day's activities for all of those friends and family members (and co-workers!) who wonder what it is a Brand Manager does. It's always a little difficult to explain my job because there are so many varied elements but this will give you a snapshot of one week in the life of a Brand Manager. Keep in mind that this is an exceptionl week that happens just twice a year but it will give you a little glimpse into the more interesting side of my world. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I'm It!

I was just 'tagged' by my buddy James over at Consolation Champs with the latest meme that's making the rounds. So, here goes...

Number of Books I Own:
This is a tricky one. Because I'm in the book distribution business, I have books floating around my office and around home constantly. I've also got books packed away in boxes because I don't have enough shelf space right now to get them all out. A quick count of what is actually on the shelves or piled somewhere around the house comes to 514.

Last Book I Bought:
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Next to Doug Coupland, Hornby is my favorite fiction author and I can't wait to get into this book but I will wait for my week of vacation before starting because I can't deal with a lack of sleep right now!

Last Book I Read:
A bit of a tie here because I tend to be reading more than one book at a time. I finished both of these on the Canada Day long-weekend: Prayer: A Cry for the Kingdom by Stanley Grenz and Terry by the aforementioned Douglas Coupland.

Prayer is just a small book but is a good summary of the concept of prayer from an intellectual point of view. This isn't an emotional call to pray more frequently, rather, it considers what it means for the Kingdom of God to break into the present and the ramifications of that as we bring our petitions to God.

Terry is part memoir, part photo essay about the life of Terry Fox and what exactly it is he accomplished on a personal and a public level with his Marathon of Hope in 1980. Coupland emphasizes how drastically an ordinary person's life can change in an instant and he asks the question "what if?" What if Terry had never lost his leg? What if he had never decided to run from coast to coast? How would his life have been different and how would our lives have been different? Reading about Terry's accomplishments and the inspiration he has been to so many people will leave you with a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat.

Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me: This is really tough. There are so many, old and new, but here are some recent reads...

A New Kind of Christian - Brian McLaren
The Table of Inwardness - Calvin Miller
Mudhouse Sabbath - Lauren Winner
Intimate Moments With The Savior - Ken Gire
The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis

Five Books I'm Currently Reading: I'm adding this category because yes, I do have five books on the go right now!

A History of Britain - Simon Schama
Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places - Eugene Peterson
The New Testament - The Message
The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer
The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell

Who's Next?
I don't personally know anyone with a blog other than James so I guess if you're reading this just leave a comment about some of your favorites. Thanks!