Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp named a finalist for the ECPA Award!

"SOBER MERCIES is simply one of the best, most honest, brilliantly written memoirs I've read. Heather Kopp gives such encouragement for when we wonder why faith alone hasn't rescued us from destructive habits. Her story stands as a beacon of hope for all of us in a broken world." --- Jud Wilhite, author of Pursued, senior pastor of Central Christian Church Sober Mercies by Heather Kopp is one of the ECPA's top Inspirational book's of the year! Presented annually to the finest in Christian publishing since 1978, the Christian Book Award® program honors titles in seven categories: Bibles, Bible Reference, Non-Fiction, Fiction, Keep Reading

Valentine's Day, from Lillian Daniel

An excerpt from When 'Spiritual but Not Religious' is not enough, on love and Valentine's Day. Keep Reading

Sara Miles: God is Everywhere

Sarah Miles: But what strikes me as different in Oaxaca is that its scores of churches ... stay wide open. Keep Reading

Slideshow: 2013 Social Justice Advent Calendar

A slideshow of our 25 days of giving, a social justice advent calendar for Keep Reading

Day 25: (RED) – Justice : Giving : Advent : Calendar

Day 25 of Jericho Books' Justice : Giving : Advent : Calendar spotlighting Keep Reading

It’s About Love, Bozos!: a post from Heather Kopp

by Heather Kopp 62 Comments Our Authors Blog
its-about-love-bozos

Last week, a friend told me about her plan to reveal her battle with alcoholism to her family. But she was feeling afraid, ready to bolt. “They’re a pretty judgmental bunch,” she said.

“I bet they’re Christians,” I said without thinking.

She looked surprised, but acknowledged that I was right.

Which was when I noticed the judgmentalism in my own remark. I mean, how does assuming the worst about fellow believers promote the kind of love and tolerance that I’m so worried they lack?

I trace my attitude back to my years of drinking. When my Christian faith couldn’t seem to save me from alcoholism, I grew cynical and disillusioned about it. I especially resented church-goers who seemed to promote a legalistic, “just-try- harder” approach.

If I’m honest, sometimes I still want to cast them into outer darkness.

But just this morning I ran across Jesus’ last prayer in the gospel of John. As you may know, it’s a long, passionate plea for love and unity among his followers. “I pray that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
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Justin Lee: ‘Gay Christian’ is not an oxymoron

by Justin Lee Leave a comment Our Authors Blog
gay-christian-not-oxymoron

Justin Lee is the author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, out tomorrow, May 14, in trade paperback.

An excerpt from from Justin Lee’s latest blog at the CNN Belief Blog.
Torn, Justin Lee

In high school, I was a Christian know-it-all.

My nickname was “God boy,” and I was known for regularly preaching at my friends about social issues of the day. I dismissed their objections – and accusations of homophobia – as intolerance for my faith.

“I’m just telling you what God’s Word says,” I’d argue.

Years later I realized my mistake. What my peers most objected to wasn’t my beliefs – it was my condescending attitude. I debated and preached when I should have listened. I thought that stating my position loudly and unyieldingly was a sign of strength. In the process, I alienated my friends.

I’m still an evangelical Christian, but one thing is now crystal clear to me. American evangelicals’ bad reputation isn’t just because of what we believe. It’s mostly because of how we behave.

Read the rest of Justin Lee’s incredible blog at CNN’s Belief Blog.

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Video: Justin Lee’s Tips for Talking to Your Gay Friends

by Jericho Books Leave a comment Videos

From Justin Lee:

Christians ask me all the time about improving their conversations with the gay community. I’ve started including some simple tips when I speak to churches and student groups, and they always get a big response from Christians who tell me they never knew, for instance, that certain words could be offensive. I thought this video might be a fun way to spread the word and give people a taste of what they can learn in my book TORN.

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On Advent

by Wendy Grisham 2 Comments General

By Wendy Grisham

God is our refuge and strength

I was not raised in a Christian tradition that observed holy days, recognized the saints or learned the Liturgy. When I came back to my faith in my 30s, it was to an Anglican church that was pretty casual on these traditions as well. They were appreciated and honored, just not prioritized.
Advent Wreath, by benedeki on sxc.hu
So I never really understood Advent. Apart from one of these posters with perforated little doors behind which you found really dodgy chocolates, I figured out that it was a count down to Christmas but that was about it for me.

I always, well not always, but for the last few years, knew it meant the lighting of candles at church and that it started four Sundays out from Christmas so you’d get one candle a Sunday. I also always checked to make sure the previous Sunday’s candle was lit. (There are certain little lists that I like to keep checked off in my head just to make sure everything is going according to plan.) Deeper than this very shallow level of understanding, I never really bothered to check.

It was about this time of year two years ago, when I was ill and thus found a lot of time on my hands, that I decided to dig a little deeper. Firstly, I learned that it is the beginning of the church year for most churches. But what really drew me in was this incredibly beautiful tradition, full of power and meaning and appreciation. The significance I came to apply to it is not just in the tradition of Advent and what it represents but also valuing the idea of the many generations of followers who have come before and concept that I join in their path and observe what they found so important.
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Behind the Title: Selling Water by the River by Shane Hipps

by Shane Hipps 10 Comments Our Authors Blog

By Shane Hipps

Selling Water by the River

Zen philosophy is famous for little sayings called Koans. They are often paradoxical, unpredictable, and inexplicable. These sayings are designed as a kind of technique to set the mind off balance or aside long enough for something beautiful to emerge. Examples include, “what is the sound of one hand clapping?” and “What moves? The flag or the wind.”
image credit: krappweis
A few years ago I came across a Zen Koan that read:

“Zen is selling water by the river.”

I was struck by the remarkable humility of a religious tradition that would state so freely that it was unnecessary for its very purpose. Zen it seems is aware of the fact that the practices and dogmas it advocates are actually unnecessary for its goal. In other words, what you seek you already have. We are just the gateway to something that has no gate.

Perhaps we might benefit from borrowing some of that humility about our religion. Maybe Christianity is merely selling water by the river too? This is where the title of my new book Selling Water By the River: A Book About the Life Jesus Promised and the Religion that Gets in the Way comes from.

When I read the Bible and the teachings of Jesus I’m struck repeatedly by the fact that Jesus didn’t seem too interested in creating a new religion. Why then are we so bent on defending or preserving our own?
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