The Legend of Christmas

Best Books 1022 Legend of Christmas

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To believe, or not to believe, is a question surrounding Christmas. For Christian families, the answer would seem obvious. After all, we are believers. And yet, when it comes to Christmas, the talk of believing is all about Santa Claus and Christmas magic. 

The Legend of Christmas Cover Image
Visit ironstreammedia.com to order your copy of The Legend of Christmas.

Commercialism in Christmas has concerned parents for generations. It’s hard to combat the onslaught of shiny new toys, the latest electronics, and the hope in a child’s eyes. Let’s be honest, it is our Christmas joy to give children gifts that make their faces light up. The idea of a Santa Claus gives parents a story and a fun way to enjoy Christmas giving. Cartoons and Hallmark specials light up the season with warm thoughts of Christmas miracles and magic. For young Christian families, it’s a time to create childhood memories. It can also be a time to lay a foundation for the truth of Christ, and the man their classmates call Santa. Parents no longer have to choose between celebrating the birth of the newborn king, and Santa. 

Santa Claus is the evolution of the Dutch name Sinterklaas, which means Saint Nicholas. Who was in fact a real man. Not only did he live, but he also followed his faith, just as his mother taught him as a child. Living during a time of severe Christian persecution, his good works were in stark contrast to the world around him. And like the Apostle Paul, he spent part of his ministry in prison. In The Legend of Christmas: An Untold Story of the Real St. Nicholas, children are introduced to a rugged man in tattered clothes being cared for by a cellmate. The stories of his kindness, bravery, and powerful prayers had spread throughout his small Mediterranean village. The scruffy younger man is amazed that a good man like Nicholas could be in prison with a thief. 

Historically accurate, with beautiful images spread over each page, parents have a new story to give their children–and something more than an elf to believe in. Parents are encouraged to try new traditions of honoring the birth of the savior by following Jesus, with childlike faith, just as St. Nicholas did. Whether or not to believe in Santa, is arguably the first time Christian children are confronted with the fantasy of our culture, and the faith of their family. This true story of Christian history, untainted by secular commercialism, gives families a deeper sense of their own spiritual heritage, and inspiration to create new faith-filled traditions this Christmas.

-Theresa White

www.thelegendofchristmas.com 

Best Books 1022 the Lord Roars

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Around the 8th century BC, God raised up several prophets to address the crisis confronting His people. Among them were Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. Their ancient prophetic message, now enshrined in our scriptures, voiced God’s love and frustration for a nation that claimed Yahweh as their God, offered him sacrifices, sang his praises, observed holy days, and read the scriptures. They thought they were in good standing with God – that they were doing it right and believed the right things. They were, however, terribly mistaken. Not only were they in a political, social, and national crisis – they were in a theological crisis. Even their religious leaders were divided – often offering competing views on what was true and what was false. Sound familiar? 

The Lord Roars Cover Image
The Lord Roars is available for purchase at Sanctuary Christian Books & Gifts in Alabaster.

In his new book, The Lord Roars- Recovering the Prophetic Voice for Today, M. Daniel Carroll R. presents a powerful appeal for modern Christians to learn from these ancient prophets. Amos, Micah, and Isaiah have a message for us today. Their warnings to God’s people about systemic injustice, nationalistic arrogance, materialism, and economic inequality are just as relevant today as they were when proclaimed to ancient Israel. The prophets of the Lord can speak into our world. The writings of the prophets are both a warning for us and an invitation to live in the hope of a world more closely conformed to the righteous vision of God. The Lord Roars is a message we would be wise to heed.

The prophetic vision for the world is not dead, nor is it confined solely to the future. As Christians, we are called to live in anticipation and hope of the coming kingdom of God, a reign of justice and abundance and true worship. But we are also obliged to live in alignment with that hope right now, in this world. We are to yearn for a just society, to work and pray and speak boldly. What does the Lord require of us? Do justice, now. Love mercy, now. Walk with humility, now. Our allegiance is not, nor should ever be, to any political or social ideology. Our allegiance is to the Roar of the Lord.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner

Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts

Colonial Promenade, Alabaster 

www.sanctuarychristianbooksandgifts.com 

205-663-2370

Best Books 0922 bedtime books

Best Books

Reading books at bedtime is a win-win. You’re opening the wonderful world of books to the minds of your littles while slowing them down with snuggles to prepare for sleep. Introducing a new pair of books that impart faith into the hearts of your children during this precious time together, Bedtime with Mommy along with its brand-new companion Bedtime with Daddy, are wonderful additions to your bedtime routine.

Bedtime with Daddy Cover
Bedtime with Mommy and Bedtime with Daddy are available for purchase at www.endgamepress.com/store.

Both books feature animal babies around the world with their parent tucking them into bed. From babies to toddlers (and even bigger ones, too!) kids will identify with their favorite animal pairs. Bedtime with Mommy includes elephants on the grasslands, pandas in the bamboo forest, and camels in the desert. Bedtime with Daddy features penguins in Antarctica, peacocks in the bushland, and reindeer on the tundra. And more!

These animal mommies and daddies sing hymns, read the Bible, and pray with their young ones as they say goodnight. Each book even features the parent praying a blessing over their child. As your children hear these prayers and blessings read to them, they’re sent off to sleep knowing their parent loves them and so does God. Isn’t that a wonderful way to say goodnight to your child? Another benefit of these adorable, padded board books is that they give examples to young parents of ways to impart a foundation of faith and prayer into the hearts of the next generation. As they see animal mommies and daddies taking time to pray and read the Bible and sing a hymn together with their little ones at bedtime, they’ll be inspired to do the same.

Bedtime with Mommy Cover
Bedtime with Mommy is a great addition to your bedtime routine with your child.

The final pages of each book show a real mommy or daddy tucking their child into bed. With snuggles and hugs and kisses in these books showing them sending their little ones off to bed, there will be lots of love shared with your own child as you read the books together. Bedtime with Mommy and its companion Bedtime with Daddy are delightful new additions to every family’s bedtime routine!

-Nancy I. Sanders

Award winning author of over 100 children’s books 

 

Best Books 0922 Good Beautiful Kind

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“We exist in a world eating away at itself.” This sentence is found on the first page of Rich Villodas’ new book, Good and Beautiful and Kind- Becoming Whole in a Fractured World (Waterbrook)Our culture has become fractured by ugliness, hostility, and hatred. The fragmentation is eating away at our social life and even worse, the divisiveness has infiltrated the church world – wreaking havoc on our spiritual health and trashing our witness before the world. How can the people of God become agents of grace and goodness, of beauty and kindness? 

Good and Beautiful and Kind Cover Image
Good and Kind and Beautiful is available for purchase at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts in Alabaster.

Villodas offers us a Christ-centered way of living as agents of grace in a world that is being ripped apart. The divisions in our society are created by sin, trauma, and the powers and principalities of systemic unrighteousness. Sadly, the church is not immune from the temptation of contentiousness. As God’s people, we can resist falling prey to the chaos through prayer, humility, gentleness, and empathy. Forgiveness and justice can deconstruct many of the walls of hostility that divide us. When we follow God’s call to live as agents of love for both Him and our neighbor, we will inherently reflect the goodness, kindness, and peace of God. 

Upon finishing Villodas’ book, I reflected on Jesus’ assertion that the world will know we are Christians by our love, along with Paul’s claim that love is the greatest gift of God. If you ask the typical non-Christian to describe the Christian community, would they call us a people of love, kindness, goodness, and beauty? Would they use such adjectives to describe you or me? It’s a question we should routinely consider if we want to heal our broken world. May God’s Spirit lead us into a new era of love and kindness. The world surely needs it.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner

Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts

Colonial Promenade, Alabaster 

www.sanctuarychristianbooksandgifts.com 

205-663-2370

Best Books 0822 Meanwhile

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Your past doesn’t define you. Your present doesn’t define you. But who you choose to trust does define your future. 

Best Books Meanwhile Cover Ironstream August 2022 BCFWe have all experienced a “meanwhile” in life when God is strategically laboring behind the scenes to work all things together for His good and for His glory. Sometimes a “meanwhile” can be an interminable and challenging “meanwhile.” Such is the story of Joseph of the Old Testament… and it might be your life story as well!

Joseph was a victim of circumstances, family dysfunction, slavery, unfair accusations, and sexual harassment. However, none of those undeserved conditions impacted the ability of Joseph to walk in his destiny.

Best Books Meanwhile Carol McLeod Photo Ironstream August 2022 BCF
In addition to writing, Carol McLeod is a popular speaker at women’s conferences and retreats. Learn more about McLeod here.

You are the “Joseph” of your own story. There are relationships, abuse, and rejection that work against you but will never determine your God-ordained destiny. No matter what you are going through and regardless of how Satan has attacked your family, your productivity, or your freedom, you can trust that God is at work behind the scenes of your life. What the enemy meant for evil, your God will certainly use for good! In Meanwhile- Meeting God in the Wait, author Carol McLeod takes the reader through a Bible study of Joseph of the Old Testament.

McLeod is a best-selling author of 15 books. She was awarded the 2021 Alumna of the Year for Service to God by Oral Roberts University and the Director’s Award for nonfiction at the 2022 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. McLeod hosts two podcasts and writes a weekly column for Ministry Today. Her weekly blog, Joy for the Journey, has been named to the Top 50 Faith Blogs for Women, and her YouVersion devotionals have reached four million people worldwide. Her latest book, Meanwhile, is available now. †

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Best Books 0822 Next Sunday

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What does the future hold for our local churches? What needs to change and what needs to be revived? Do we need to double down on what we’ve been doing, make minor adjustments, or radically re-evaluate everything, including the fundamentals? What is the real purpose of the church anyway? What is the point?

Best Books Next Sunday Cover August 2022 BCFWhile these are questions you may not have considered before, I can assure you that most pastors are thinking about them. And they should be. Church attendance has fallen nationally by 25% in the last twenty years. In 2018, the percentage of Americans who attend church declined to a historic low, and that was before Covid disrupted everything. Even more alarming is the rapid decline in attendance of young adults, who are increasingly suspicious of the church institutions of their parents and dismayed by a perceived disconnect between the Gospel of Jesus and the social views represented in the churches they once called home. Sadly, many of their suspicions are not without merit.

Nancy Beach
Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kiley are mother and daughter co-authors.

In their new book, Next Sunday – An Honest Dialogue About the Future of the Church (IVP Press), Nancy Beach and Samantha Beach Kiley share two perspectives on what the church has been and what it can become. Beach worked in an evangelical mega-church for years. Her daughter and co-author, Kiley, is a creative arts pastor in Austin, Texas. Together, they reflect different hopes and expectations for the church. Although they share a desire to see their church be what God intends it to be, they recognize that churches are made up of humans, and humans are anchored to culture. The gospel does not change, but how we express our faith does. There has never been one true, universal paradigm for church polity and practice. The question, therefore, is not whether churches will change, but how and why?

Samantha Beach Kiley
Next Sunday is available for purchase at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts in Alabaster.

Beach and Kiley offer an insightful, honest, and valuable conversation between two women of faith who have different dreams for the church. As such, reading Next Sunday can be a catalyst for thoughtful contemplation on the future of your own church. Whether you are a pastor, active member, or occasional church guest, Next Sunday may be a rich resource for reimagining what your church should look like in the future, for both you and the community it serves.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner

Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts

Colonial Promenade, Alabaster 

www.sanctuarychristianbooksandgifts.com 

205-663-2370

 

Best Books Far From Home

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Born and raised in India, Mabel Ninan came to the US as a newlywed who was confident, equipped, and ready for adventure. But as the novelty of the experience faded, the struggle of living in an unfamiliar environment began to take its toll. She reached a breaking point and wrestled with questions about her identity and calling.

Far From Home 1Ninan’s desperate search for purpose, belonging, and rootedness brought her to her knees before the throne of God. It was there that God turned her perspective around, showing her that her struggle was also her strength. She discovered her true identity, as not only an earthly immigrant but also a spiritual one by design, a pilgrim of heaven just passing through. When Ninan began to see herself through God’s eyes and adopted an eternal perspective, her heart overflowed with passion to chase after God’s plans. She felt called to share her message with others on the journey so that they, too, could find the key to a joyful and meaningful life.

In Far from Home, Ninan draws parallels between her immigrant experiences and her God-given appointment as a stranger on earth. Using the stories of biblical immigrant heroes, she sheds light on what it means to truly live as citizens of heaven including: 

  • Embracing our identity as foreigners on earth, set apart to fulfill our heavenly calling.
  • Making our home with God, recognizing that our earthly anchors are fleeting. 
  • Finding community in the universal body of believers and working together to further the kingdom.
Mabel Ninan Headshot
In addition to writing non-fiction books, Mabel Ninan has a blog and podcast. Learn more at www.mabelninan.com.

The book is structured around challenges that immigrants wrestle with the most, which broadly fall into three main categories—identity, home, and community. Each of these three sections is broken down into chapters. A unique feature of the book is that it invites readers to respond at the end of each chapter through prayer and reflection and encourages them to act. Far from Home serves as a guidebook for Christians looking to build a stronger walk with God. This book is for the seeker, the wanderer, the lonely, the desperate, the messed up, the broken. Far from Home is for the stranger, but also for the stranger’s friend. 

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Best Books thoughts and prayers

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On a spring day in 2013, Taylor S. Schumann sat at her reception desk while daydreaming about her upcoming bridal shower. Just before lunchtime, an active shooter entered her building and randomly shot her from two feet away. She was one of 36,000 Americans injured or killed with a gun that year.

When Thoughts and Prayers Arent Enough CoverIn the aftermath of her shooting, Schumann’s faith was challenged and stretched. Her rehabilitation was slow and painful, and the emotional trauma was deep. She also discovered a painful truth: the church community is far too silent and uninformed about the crisis of gun violence. Even worse, a large segment of the church is deeply entrenched in its commitment to easy access to weapons, even though the price America pays for saturating our society with weapons is the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children each year. In her new book, When Thoughts and Prayer Aren’t Enough (InterVarsity Press)Schumann shares her story in hopes that it will motivate readers to reconsider the issue from a Christian perspective. Point by point, Schumann dismantles some of the common myths and arguments Christians often believe about gun ownership and violence. She encourages the church to not only offer faithful prayers but to also do the work Christ has called us to. If something within our culture kills, steals, and destroys, then it must be repudiated and rejected by all those who profess an allegiance to Jesus.

Taylor Schumann Photo
Taylor S. Schumann lives with her family in Charleston, SC. Her book When Thoughts and Prayers Aren’t Enough is available at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts in Alabaster.

Hear Schumann’s exhortation to the people of God: “Jesus said no one can serve two masters. We can make masters of anything. When we choose to remain silent and complicit in the deaths of our neighbors every year to gun violence, all in the name of individual rights – that’s a master. That’s not Jesus…I want Christians to take their rightful place in this fight. I want us to stop enabling violence and instead seek peace…We’ve tried desperately for decades to hold a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other and we have no hands left to serve each other, or Jesus. We have to choose. We have to lay one down. So I ask, who will you serve this day?”

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner

Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts

Colonial Promenade, Alabaster 

www.sanctuarychristianbooksandgifts.com 

205-663-2370

 

Best Books 0622 Prayer of Daniel

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Many people know of Daniel as the prophet who escaped a grisly death in a den of lions. Others may remember him as the man who read God’s writing on the wall, predicting the fall of frivolous King Belshazzar. In more recent times, it is Daniel’s 21-day fast that has achieved somewhat of a celebrity status attracting the pious, the curious, and those feeling burdened with a few extra pounds. 

The Prayer of Daniel CoverThere is one thing glaringly absent from most of these rave reviews, articles, and videos about the fast and that is Daniel’s prayer. This is an unfortunate omission as it is in the prayer that the drama of supernatural intervention unfolds. As Daniel prays, a battle literally takes place above his head. The archangel Gabriel fought and defeated an evil angel who would prevent the answer to the prophet’s prayer from coming through.

At the beginning of 2020, I began reading through Daniel 9 and before long discovered what I believed made the prophet’s prayer so appealing to God. Daniel did not argue and complain about the extended period of judgment Israel would pass through during the Babylonian captivity. Instead, he based his prayer on what he knew of the character of God. That belief is expressed in verse 9 of the chapter and forms the main support of the entire prayer: “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.”

We are reminded that the resurrected Jesus is forever engaged in making intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). My book The Prayer of Daniel offers thirty days of personal prayers through Daniel 9. It is designed to help the reader join in the work of intercession. Whether, like Daniel, we are crying out for mercy for our nation or for loved ones near and dear to us, there is no better premise on which to anchor our prayers. We are in the wrong. God is perfectly right. In spite of this fact, he will answer and even send angels to defend us because of his unceasing mercy and forgiveness. 

Lauren Myers-Lauren E. Myers, Myers is a registered nurse by profession and an award-winning writer and Amazon best-selling author. Works include Moments with Jesus, Sanctuary: Daily Blessings in the Secret Place, and In the Presence of Grace.

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Best Books 0622 We Go On

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About 3,000 years ago, a prince inherited his father’s kingdom. Blessed by God with wisdom, he turned the fledgling realm into a diplomatic and commercial powerhouse, becoming the wealthiest monarch of his time. He became an uber-rich, international superstar. As his fame and wealth increased, his dissatisfaction and disappointment with life grew deeper. The “Teacher” decided to pour out his frustration in words now known as the Book of Ecclesiastes, a body of literary despair we know to find in our Bibles.

We Go On Cover ImageIn his new book, We Go On (Zondervan), author John Onwuchekwa draws from the book of Ecclesiastes and from his own journey through life. Like the “Teacher,” John also experienced times of discouragement and intense frustration with the world. Sometimes life does not make sense. The righteous are trampled and the wicked prospers, we get what we want and find it isn’t enough, we work and we dream and never secure what we long for. And at the end of life, we leave it all behind and we are slowly forgotten. John uses the ancient writing in Ecclesiastes to guide us to a life of purpose – one governed by our hope and trust in God. The world changes, but God does not. When we view our work, our possessions, our identity, and our relationships as gifts from God, they cease to be meaningless. The ancient king reviewed his life “under the sun” in despair. John encourages us to view life as a gift from God. We can live in hope and joy as we prayerfully “live full lives in this fractured world as we await the hope of the Resurrection.”

John Onwuchekwa
John Onwuchekwa pastors Cornerstone Church in Atlanta. His latest book, We Go On, is available at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts in Alabaster.

The king was wrong. Life is not worthless. Death is not the end. Our time on earth is not an exercise in futility. What we do and who we are and who we love matters to God. That’s why he sent his Son to redeem us. Our hours are in His safekeeping, and He will redeem them all. We don’t live merely “under the sun.” We live under the kingdom of heaven.

-Darrel Holcombe, Owner

Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts

Colonial Promenade, Alabaster 

www.sanctuarychristianbooksandgifts.com 

205-663-2370

 

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