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Summer reads

Compiled by Scott Harrup

Despite current economic woes, people continue to spend hard-earned dollars on books — plenty of books. Even factoring in a 2.8 percent drop from 2007, the Association of American Publishers reported more than $24 billion in book sales for 2008. Religious book sales were down 7.6 percent, but that corner of the market still commanded $724 million.

Superstar authors in the secular industry attract headlines in USA Today and The New York Times every year, but millions of Christian readers keep an eye out for the latest releases from the likes of Karen Kingsbury, Chuck Swindoll or Jerry Jenkins. And publishers continue to expand their offerings among writers from the rank and file within the Christian community.

Behind the pulpit or in the pew, Assemblies of God communicators are branching into book writing and getting their message out to a growing audience of readers. This summer, whether your reading interests are Bible fact or inspirational fiction, consider the following titles when you’re putting together your reading list.

Mark Batterson is lead pastor for National Community Church in Washington, D.C. Currently one church with three locations, the vision of NCC is to meet in movie theaters and Metro stops throughout the D.C. area.

Batterson’s In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by the obscure yet courageous act of King David’s trusted bodyguard Benaiah who chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. Batterson invites readers to “unleash the lion chaser within.”

“Our best days often start out as our worst days,” Batterson says of his book. “And our greatest opportunities are often disguised as our biggest problems. You can land in a pit with a lion on a snowy day, and it will seem like the end of the road. But God is in the recycling business. He recycles past experiences and uses them to prepare us for future opportunities.”

Alicia Britt Chole enjoys country living with her husband, Barry, and their three children, all the while reaching out to others as an in-demand speaker and writer. Her books include Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours and The Making of a Mentor. Her latest release, Finding an Unseen God: Reflections of a Former Atheist, led her to establish an intercessory prayer group.

“Those of you who know me well know that I don’t talk about spiritual warfare often or lightly,” Chole shares on her blog at “But I felt a distinct call from God’s heart today to gather a team to partner for His purposes for this message in prayer.” Chole invites those interested in joining this prayer team to e-mail her at

Kerry Clarensau’s recent release, Secrets: Transforming Your Life and Marriage, leads women on a journey that reveals eight biblical secrets every wife needs to know. The interactive, just-for-women Bible study is packed with wisdom, stories, discussion questions, activities and journaling. The entire Secrets learning experience combines a leader’s kit with the book and utilizes DVD and CD-ROM resources.

Clarensau has served the Kansas District of the Assemblies of God in different ministry roles and at the Assemblies of God headquarters as national Missionettes coordinator. Under her leadership the Missionettes program was retooled in 1998. She has also served as women’s pastor at Maranatha Worship Center in Wichita, Kan., where her husband, Mike, serves as senior pastor. She is a Bible teacher, writer, wife, mother and much more. Her role as pastor’s wife will be instrumental in developing effective leadership resources for the local church.

Michelle LaRowe Conover is the 2004 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year. A career nanny specializing in caring for twins, Conover has more than a decade of professional childcare experience. She is an active member of the nanny community and has served on the board of directors and as vice president of the International Nanny Association.

Conover is called on by the media as a parenting expert and has appeared on local, national and international television and radio and has been featured in print. She is the author of the Nanny to the Rescue! parenting series and of Working Mom’s 411. Michelle and her husband, Jeff, reside on Cape Cod with their daughter, Abigail, and attend Faith Assembly of God in Hyannis, Mass.

Tom Greene, national director of Men’s Ministries for the Assemblies of God, served for nine years in National Youth Ministries, first as director of Speed the Light and later as director of youth ministries. This followed a 12-year term as the district youth director in Oklahoma.

Greene has generously shared from his experiences as a pastor, youth leader, Men’s Ministries director, husband and father in his 2008 release The Game Isn’t Over.

“This is not a book about baseball,” Greene insists. “This is a book that leans on real stories and sports analogies to illustrate a proven game plan. This is a book committed to effective principles for every inning of life.”

Dave Kyllonen, Duane Nicholson and Neil Enloe are the original Couriers, described by Bill Gaither as “the class act of gospel music.” In 2008 the internationally known singers celebrated five decades of ministry with Our Final Quarter, their unique book that offers three distinct and candid viewpoints of the genesis and growth of a music ministry matched by few others. Along with the Blackwood Brothers, the Couriers are one of the best-known gospel groups to originate within the Assemblies of God.

“In all those years,” writes former Revivaltime speaker Dan Betzer, “they have never given God less than their best. They have offered Him the ‘fine linen’ of their ultimate service, not the unraveled dishrags of mediocrity. Every concert has been a ‘command performance for the King.’”

Beverly Lewis is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University. Lewis has written more than 80 books for children, youth and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction “book worms.”

Lewis is writing her new series, Seasons of Grace, set in Bird-in-Hand, Pa. Book One: The Secret was released in April.

Joanna Weaver and her husband, John, recently accepted the pastorate of Hamilton Assembly of God in Hamilton, Mont. Previously they pastored the AG congregation in Whitefish.

Recently updated with a new 12-week Bible study, Weaver’s popular Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World shows readers how to blend intimacy with Jesus and service to Him.

SCOTT HARRUP is senior associate editor of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Out There (

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