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Book review: I'm not crazy I'm just a little unwell by Leigh Hatcher

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Leigh Hatcher’s book about his years suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome nearly had a completely different name.

But all along he’d felt the Matchbox 20 lyric I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell seemed to resonate with his experience and so he went with his heart and it became the title of his best selling book.

And that’s something Leigh is good at, going with his heart, and he bares plenty of it in this riveting story of one man’s crash out of life and into a world of misunderstood and often mysterious sickness.

In his preface, Hatcher - one of Australia’s best known journalists, news presenters and authors - explains that ‘no two CFS stories will ever be the same’ and so it is fitting that he simply tells his story, with its backdrop of iconic political moments, Olympic excitement and the inner workings of television and radio.

In a tightly written book that moves along at a clipping pace but still manages to pack in plenty of detail, Hatcher describes his fascinating life…

Book review: Misfits Welcome by Matthew Barnett

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When Matthew and Caroline Barnetts' story first broke into Christian consciousness across the globe, it inspired many pastors and leaders to finally acknowledge the part of themselves they had been often taught to ignore.

It was unusual to hear of a large, popular, American, Pentecostal church that centralised radical engagement with the poor.

Most church experts would teach us that you can't build a church with 'people like that' but maybe, when your church was big enough and had a great building and shiny brochures then, perhaps, it could have such a ministry, in a small corner some where.

In his first book, The Church that Never Sleeps, a young Barnett turned that idea on its head and breathed life into many pastors and churches that had always struggled to justify their seeming indifference to the disadvantaged. For a while he was the flavour of the month, speaking at pastors conferences around the world and even now, many years later, there is increased intention…

Amazon launches Christian publishing imprint, Waterfall Press

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Amazon Publishing today (January 24, 2014) announced the launch of Waterfall Press, a new Christian imprint that will specialize in faith-based non-fiction and fiction


An Amazon media release says, 'Waterfall Press non-fiction will aim to provide spiritual refreshment and inspiration to today's Christian reader, while fiction will include stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

'Waterfall Press titles will be published by Brilliance Publishing, part of the Amazon.com group of companies, which currently offers readers self-help and personal growth books under the Grand Harbor Press imprint.

'"Brilliance has over 12 years of experience serving the Christian market as audiobook publisher of some of the most successful Christian authors writing today," said Mark Pereira, President and Publisher of Brilliance Publishing. "We are excited to expand our offering to readers of faith-based material by publishing original Christian content with endurin…

Millions buy Sarah Young's Jesus Calling but theologians aren't so sure

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The Christian devotional, Jesus Calling, which is one the best-selling books in the world today, out-selling Fifty Shades of Grey in the first half 2013, has a strong Australian connection.

Author Sarah Young, who first released Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence in 2004, has been a missionary in Australia since 1977 with her husband Stephen and most recently they moved to Perth in 2001 to start a new church for Japanese people.

They continue to serve that church, as well as developing other Japanese ministries for the Presbyterian Church of Australia, although it is reported they are planning to return to their home country, the United States, to live in Tennessee.

Millions of copies sold

After selling 59,000 copies in the first three years, Jesus Calling sold 220,000 in its fourth year and according to Christianity Today, quoting publisher Thomas Nelson, sales of the book have doubled nearly every year since then, with the tally now reaching 9 million copies across 26 la…

Book review: Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher

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Learning from the lives of others is one of the great opportunities we have for personal growth, as we see ourselves reflected in their stories.

Just such an opportunity, multiplied 30 times, is presented to readers of Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher launched this week.

Open House is the popular Sunday night radio interview program hosted by well-known media personality and journalist Leigh Hatcher and the book is a collection of some of his best and most recent interviews.

Although I am somewhat wary of anthologies of this kind, sometimes feeling they are an easy excuse for a book, this one has been thoughtfully and carefully prepared so that it is a fast-moving and fascinating read and you never feel you are getting a re-run of past glory.

Instead the interviews are a good length for reading, not too long but enough detail to capture the pathos of people's story-telling - which is where personally I could at times see something of my own life - or a friend or fami…

Australian Christian Book of the Year 2013 shortlist announced

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The story of a mother badly burned while protecting her children in the Ash Wednesday fires and a book challenging charities to hold fast to their original purpose are among titles shortlisted for the Australian Christian Book of the Year

The shortlist was announced tonight by SPCKA on the Australian Christian Literature Awards Facebook page, while the winners will be presented St Alfred’s Anglican Church, Blackburn North, Victoria, on August 8, 7.30pm.

The shortlist features:
A Faith to Live By - Roland Ashby | Mosaic Books Driven by Purpose: Charities that make the difference - Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson, Felicity Errington | HammondPress Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: Ethics and the beginning of human life - Dr Megan Best | Matthias Media Forged with Flames: A true story of courage and survival - Ann Fogarty and Anne Crawford | Wild Dingo Press Paul: A Pastor's Heart in Second Corinthians - Paul Barnett | Aquila Press Preach like a Train Driver - Tim Hawkins | Hawkins Minis…

The dance of faith and family explained in new book: How the West Really Lost God

Secularisation in western culture is due to the breakdown of the family, and not the intelligent strength of atheists or the spiritual apathy brought on by wealth.

So argues author Mary Eberstadt in her new book How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory on Secularization, published by Templeton Press, 268 pages.

Eberstadt attempts to dispel myths such as the idea that atheists are intellectually superior to dimwitted believers and argues that a growing secularisation is due to a less flourishing family life among people of faith.

Faith reinforces family life and family life reinforces family. When this cycle is broken, both decline.

She looks at the shattering of family life that occurred in 18th and 19th century Britain bringing a parallel decline in religious (until challenged by revival moments such as seen in the Methodists and Salvation Army).

A similar decline in family life, such as among American farmers this century, coincides with growing secularisation, for example.

And s…

Book review: Fascinating Times by Mal Fletcher

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The idea of fascinating times, as author and social commentator Mal Fletcher explains, can inspire thoughts of exciting possibilities or simply exhaustion.

The supposed Chinese curse goes, 'May you live in fascinating times'. Maybe this is an indication that as much as we tell ourselves we are up for an adventure, really we just want to be left alone doing what we've always done.

Judging by the subject matter of Fletcher's new book, Fascinating Times, sitting quietly is hardly likely to be an option, at least not all of the time.

His collection of essays and commentary from recent years is like an omnibus of the major forces sweeping across our lives and generations, whether we like it or not.

And given our propensity at times to want to ignore things we don't like, don't understand or simply don't agree with, we can be thankful that Fletcher has done the hard yards of pulling these topics together and providing thoughtful, reasoned commentary.

At times, a…

Book review: Faith in Action by Meredith Lake

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About two years ago I started working with HammondCare, having been unfamiliar with the name and the story behind it.

I was aware of a Sydney suburb called Hammondville which often appeared in traffic reports, something like - 'traffic is banked up all the way to the Hammondville toll'.

I was also very familiar with Arthur Stace, the man famous for writing his one-word sermon, Eternity, around Sydney and beyond hundreds of thousands of times from the 1930s to 1967 when he died - at Hammondville.

I had always thought his life one of Sydney's great stories and a powerful touch point of faith and culture, recognised also by those who have written about him in poems and songs, created paintings, produced documentaries and operas and even featured his word in the millennium fireworks and the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony.

What I have discovered, as is revealed in Faith in Action HammondCare, is that the story of Rev Bob Hammond and the charity he founded is just as quintesse…

Books News: Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Easter new releases

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Please click on any book cover to purchase or pre-order Having killed Lincoln and Kennedy in previous books, US Fox News anchor and best-selling author Bill O'Reilly has announced his next book, Killing Jesus to be published on September 24.

As the calendar approaches Easter, there will no doubt be the usual flurry of new Jesus books released and discussed but ironically the timing of O'Reilly's new title is aimed at the biggest bookselling season of them all, Christmas.

And while O'Reilly as an author is relatively unknown outside North America, as are his books, he still ranks as the world's sixth richest author grossing $24 million last year.

But Killing Jesus may well gain him a broader, global audience and no doubt that is part of his motivation in writing the book.

His now tried and true formula is to allow co-author Martin Dugard to do the pain-staking work of research around the killing of a famous historical figure while he comes on board to write history…

Book review: Meeting Cain at the Cross Roads - Saramago vs Young

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Cross Roads by William Paul Young was a Christmas present for my 22-year-old son and while he takes time to get around to it, I've leapt in for the purposes of review.

Cain by Jose Saramago had earned a 'staff recommendation' tag at Better Read than Dead in Newtown, Sydney, and so I took their lead and bought it on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

For a time I read them side by side, a literary juxtaposition:

Cross Roads by a US Christian novelist famous for writing the bestseller, The Shack, who offended some religious sensibilities in the process. Events in his new novel are based inside someone's being, located in his home state of Oregon.

Cain by a Nobel-prize winning, deceased Portuguese author also known for offending religious sensibilities and being a self-confessed communist, atheist and pessimist. Events in this his last book are seen through the eyes of the first child of Adam and Eve and occur at the beginning of time and space.

Both tell a message of God, but a dif…

James Dobson focuses on fictional future in new book Fatherless

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Author of Dare to Discipline, Bringing up Boys and about 30 other titles has written his first fiction book, Fatherless, with co-author Kurt Bruner.

Released last month, Fatherless is a dystopia likened by the publisher, Faithwords (Hatchette) to 1984 and Brave New World.

Conservative US media personality, Glen Beck, likened the book to Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic that contributed to the start of the American Civil War and the end of slavery in that country.

While interviewing Dobson recently, Beck held up both Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Fatherless, and said, 'This, uh, many believe, is this. This will wake people up.'

Wake people up, in Dobson's words, to the 'redefining of life' through a growing normalisation of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide.

The book opens in 2041 with a 'volunteer' submitting to an ending of life or 'transition' for the good of family and country. It continues by exploring this future where the…

Unstoppable Nick Vujicic celebrating being a father

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Bestselling author Nick Vujicic, known across the globe as the man with no arms and legs who defies this disability to limit him, is celebrating another milestone in becoming a father.

Nick has kept fans up to date on the arrival of he wife Kanae first child through his Facebook page.

Kiyoshi James Vujicic was born on February 14 and weighted in at 8 pounds 10 oz, and 21 3/4 inches long.

His most recent Facebook post shows little Kiyoshi held tight to Nick's chest in a sling with the proud father writing: 'Dream come true. Holding my Baby Boy Kiyoshi. Amazing grace and gift from God. Love you all so much. Thank you for your showers of prayer.'

Nick is the author of  Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life  and his current bestseller, Unstoppable. | Click covers to buy now |

Nick is also a motivational speaker and the director of the non-profit organisation Life Without Limbs. He has become a great inspiration to people around the world, regularl…