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Book Reviews CR Feb 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Monday, 04 January 2010 09:25 AM EST


Andy Croft and Mike Pilavachi

David C. Cook

softcover, 224 pages, $12.99


In Storylines: Your Map to Understanding the Bible, popular international speaker, author and founder of the Soul Survivor youth ministry organization, Pilavachi joins the up-and-coming author Croft to discover Christ in the Old and New Testaments. The introduction sets a lighthearted tone that continues throughout this powerful Bible study.

Pilavachi and Croft show how the themes of Jesus, covenant, presence, kingdom, salvation and worship are threaded throughout Scripture, revealing the need for and the glory of Christ. God's desire to have a personal relationship with His children is evident in the writers' presentation.

Storylines challenges readers to get out of their comfort zone and dig deeply into the richness of the Scriptures. With humorous personal stories and extensive biblical references, the book will help anyone looking to rekindle their love for God's Word.

—Andrealynn Boyd

EverythingYouAlwaysWantedKnEverything You've Always Wanted To Know About God: The Jesus Edition

Eric Metaxas

Regal Books

hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99


In Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God: The Jesus Edition, Metaxas approaches theology with a thoughtful, pastoral heart while communicating to readers with wit and solid practicality.

He guides readers through a series of conversations on many of the theological tenets the church holds about Christ, posing commonly asked questions about Him and then working through the answers step by step.

While answering the questions within the context of the culture and time of Christ, Metaxas also incorporates examples of what these characteristics of Christ might look like today. The questions range from the validity of His existence and resurrection to what His difficult teachings mean and why His words have such an impact. Metaxas uses scripture from both the Old and New Testaments to show who Christ was and what He means to a fallen world.

While some of his explanations are what anyone would expect to hear about Jesus, others are clever and insightful. In the midst of this readable and entertaining book, Metaxas manages to effectively convey serious, meaningful truths about the character and person of Jesus Christ.

—Bonnie Bruner

HalosAvatarsHalos & Avatars

Craig Detweiler, ed.

WJK Books (Westminster John Knox Press)

softcover, 256 pages, $19.95


Detweiler taps game designers, reviewers and players for a Christian interpretation on video games in Halos & Avatars: Playing Video Games With God. Avoiding the simplistic trap of branding games as evil, the compilation examines the benefits, spiritual and otherwise, that gamers derive from this leisure activity.

Detweiler groups the various authors' commentaries into three sections dealing with video game story, play and role issues. Because of the multiple authors, the viewpoint is not entirely consistent from chapter to chapter, and similar points arise repeatedly. For example, several authors feel that some secular titles such as Bioshock offer a spiritual takeaway superior to that of what they consider to be superficially Christian games like Left Behind: Eternal Forces.

Interspersed among the chapters are sidebars with blatantly honest profiles of teenage gamers—most confessing they would achieve better grades without games. An appendix offers coping hints for game-weary parents. For Christians unsure of what to make of video games, Halos & Avatars offers some intriguing perspectives.

—John D. Leatherman

OneInAMillionjpgOne in a Million

Priscilla Shirer

B&H Books (B&H Publishing Group)

softcover, 224 pages, $14.99


Author and speaker Shirer wants women to move beyond living a complacent Christian life. In One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land, she takes a look at the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt into the land of milk and honey, correlating their travels to the lives of many Christians today.

Shirer contends that Christians enjoy deliverance from sin and bondage, but have a tendency to look back and desire the things that have passed away. Out of fear and uncertainty, they miss out on the rest of the journey God has planned for them. She strongly encourages Christians to not allow themselves to become too comfortable in times of peace, nor embittered in times in the wilderness.

One in a Million is a helpful read for those who have found themselves discouraged or stagnant in their Christian walk and are ready to press on for more.

—Heidi Ippolito

TheVerticalSelfThe Vertical Self

Mark Sayers

Thomas Nelson

softcover, 244 pages, $14.99


Sayers, pastor of Red East Church in Melbourne, Australia, confronts the idols of the 21st century in The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in an Age of Self Obsession. He focuses on such masks and diversions as sex, fame, image and coolness, and distinguishes between the horizontal life and the vertical life.

The horizontal life is marked by a focus on such values as self, status and image; conversely, the vertical self embodies growth, holiness and community, among other ideals. Sayers has included helpful charts, lists, diagrams and an interactive study guide to flesh out major themes of the false self and true self.

The Vertical Self is no panacea or quick fix, and the author clearly articulates that the path to shalom (peace), balance and holiness is a journey. Though Sayers specializes in youth discipleship, The Vertical Self is appropriate for teenagers as well as adults.

—C. Brian Smith

ForgetMeNotForget Me Not

Vicki Hinze

Multnomah Books

softcover, 352 pages, $13.99


An intriguing suspense novel, Forget Me Not is filled with drama, hidden agendas and a budding romance.

After his wife and son are murdered, Benjamin Brandt loses his faith and gives up on life. But when an amnesiac woman wearing a necklace resembling one his late wife wore walks into his crisis center, Ben sets out to solve a mystery. The young woman had been left for dead in a wooded area of Florida, so Ben and his crisis-center team work on finding clues to her identity and why someone would want to kill her. Unbeknownst to Ben and the woman, they are pawns in a bigger plot that exposes a terrorist group.

As the mysteries of the young woman's identity unravel, she stands in faith in God, even though she does not know what her future—or past—holds. The twists and turns of Hinze's latest thriller will appeal to readers of inspirational romantic suspense.

—Nicole Anderson

HerMothersHopeHer Mother's Hope

Francine Rivers

Tyndale House Publishers

hardcover, 520 pages, $24.99


Best-selling author Rivers delivers another captivating novel in Her Mother's Hope, her first full-length work since 2003. Main character Marta, born and reared in Switzerland to a controlling father and a placid mother, rejects the poor and miserly life she sees ahead of her. Working her way up through jobs in various cities, she eventually meets her husband-to-be, Niclas. Terminally ambitious, the two move to California, where they raise their four children.

Marta's second child, Hildemara—nicknamed Hildie—has a very passive nature, much like Marta's younger sister who had committed suicide. Marta is harder on Hildie than on her other children. In turn, Hildie works hard at school, at home and on the job. Her siblings seem to always succeed and garner their mother's praise, but Hildie works harder and harder—unaware that her mother admires her grit and determination. Marta's faith is learned from her mother but is not terribly strong. Hildie learns that her faith must be her own, not that of her controlling, disapproving mother.

Her Mother's Hope launches the new series "Marta's Legacy." Working actual historical happenings and place settings into the storyline, Rivers proves once more that she can keep readers transfixed and wanting more.

—Beth Anderson



Book Reviews CR Jan 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Friday, 18 December 2009 10:58 AM EST

ThinPlacesThin Places

Mary DeMuth


softcover, 224 pages, $14.99


In Thin Places: A Memoir, DeMuth traces her life's influences, both positive and negative. The title refers to the times and places throughout her life when the everyday and the spiritual world seemed close enough for her to reach across and touch Jesus.

While the book is autobiographical, it is not chronological. Each chapter traces a particular facet of her character through various seasons of her life. One chapter, for example, chronicles the three divorces of DeMuth's mother and how the loss of each successive father seemed to rob DeMuth of something. Then she skips ahead to a troubling season with her own husband, showing how her childhood struggles gave her the strength to restore her marriage for the sake of her children.

Some of the chapters are disturbing, as DeMuth has experienced childhood sexual abuse and child pornography. Still, Thin Places offers a poignant look at the development of a well-known Christian writer.

—John D. Leatherman

HowtoreachyourfullpotentialHow to Reach Your Full Potential for God

Charles F. Stanley

Thomas Nelson

hardcover, 256 pages, $21.99


Stanley continues to his writing on practical theology and the Christian life in How to Reach Your Full Potential for God: Never Settle for Less Than His Best. Deeply rooted in the Scriptures, the book enumerates the essentials of a rich, meaningful existence. A clean heart, a clean mind and a balanced schedule can do wonders to revive an arid soul, according to the author.

Stanley grapples with the existential issues that confront us all: questions of identity, meaning, purpose and destiny. He realistically and frankly discusses obstacles, setbacks and frustrations in the believer's path to reaching his or her potential—stress, alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, broken relationships, fear and low self-value. More importantly, the popular Bible teacher inspires readers to learn about and exercise their spiritual gifts as well as to take risks—which is the essence of faith and trust in God.

How to Reach Your Full Potential for God makes for a good read when considering the new year and its resolutions.

—C. Brian Smith

deliverusfromevilDeliver Us from Evil

Robin Caroll

B&H Fiction (B&H Publishing Group)

softcover, 320 pages, $14.99


The suspense novel Deliver Us From Evil sheds awareness about child sex trafficking within the United States. U.S.
Marshal Roark Holland is assigned the task of escorting a donor heart for a major witness that will open up a child trafficking case. Park ranger Brannon Callahan finds herself caught in the middle of Holland's case when she rescues him after a plane crash.

As they move through the woods, accompanied by Callahan's partner, Lincoln, they discover that someone is out to ensure their mission fails. Once they understand the mission is to save the life of innocent children, determination, teamwork and faith become their stablizing forces.

Caroll's action-packed adventure weaves together a mystery that keep the reader turning the pages and a lighthearted romance that builds between two strangers thrust together in life-threatening circumstances and loss.

—Nicole Anderson

neversayneverNever Say Never

Lisa Wingate

Bethany House Publishers (Baker Publishing Group)

softcover, 352 pages, $14.99


Wingate's Never Say Never is a "deep in the heart of Texas" thrill ride. It begins with 71-year-old Donetta Brandford and her two best friends, Imagene and Lucy, who decide to take a cruise to break the monotony of their lives in small town Daily, Texas.

At a country store, they encounter twenty-something Kai, a cruise line employee who reveals that the ship has already left to get out of the way of a hurricane. Everyone else is trying to get out, too, including some bad characters and a church from Louisiana.

As this group unites, chaos reigns, but in the midst, God shows all of them that miracles do still happen. The book ends with a surprise event and everyone is thankful to God for finding such great friends.

Women, young and old, will identify with the theme of the quest for true love and be met with the promise of perfect love in Christ.

—Tanya Ohle

A_Year_of_Blind_DatesA Year of Blind Dates

Megan Carson

Regal Books

softcover, 192 pages, $12.99


Debut author Carson's A Year of Blind Dates: A Single Girl's Search for 'the One' is a comical account of her search for Mr. Right. Though she has always been blessed with a supportive family, friends and a life full of purpose, at age 28 she becomes more determined than ever to find the man of her dreams.

With the help of a dating service and friends who are all too willing to introduce her to potential mates, Carson embarks on a series of dates that will change her in a way she never expects.

The World's Best Dating Service—names changed to protect the innocent—promises 14 dates in the course of a year, surely enough to find the perfect match. From Penthouse Pete to Miguel the Matador, most of the dates simply go from bad to worse. The few that have potential still do not make it far.

After a heart-breaking year, Carson accepts that she cannot change or, much less, spoil God's plan for her life. Her story offers encouragement to those looking for "The One" and is a sure reminder of God's love and faithfulness.

—Bonnie Bruner

YouCanStillWearCuteShoesYou Can Still Wear Cute Shoes

Lisa McKay

David C. Cook

softcover, 208 pages, $12.99


McKay, a blogger writing her debut book with You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes…And Other Great Advice From an Unlikely Preacher's Wife, didn't plan on becoming a pastor's wife. Her husband, Luke, worked in construction, and they were on the brink of divorce before he got saved. Then, when he sensed God's call to ministry, McKay wasn't too certain about this vocational change and especially not her new leadership role.

With humorously refreshing advice to her fellow pastors' wives, McKay shares some of her mishaps in trying to fit into a stereotype that did not suit her personality—and reveals how God set her free from that mentality.

But the book is not written solely to pastors' wives; rather, she addresses congregation members, giving helpful, realistic guidelines to all—pastor, pastor's wife and church member—on how to serve each other and together build God's kingdom.

—Deborah L. Delk

Dug-Down-DeepDug Down Deep

Joshua Harris

Multnomah Books

hardcover, 256 pages, $19.99


Harris, best known for the teen advice book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, draws from his experience growing up in the church for Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters. Opening with a look at Rumspringa, the Amish rite of passage, Harris explains his personal spiritual journey and why all believers come to a point of personal faith ownership.

The author credits notables such as J.I. Packer and John Piper for defining moments in the formation of his understanding of theology. He also focuses on why theology, along with orthodoxy, has been overlooked—to the detriment of the church. Some of the most memorable moments, however, center on times when Harris discovers his life should revolve around God and not vice versa.

Dug Down Deep is an easy, conversational read targeting those who, like Harris, have found themselves in a shallow spirituality. He stresses the relevance of Scripture in modern living and urges readers to know what they believe and why.

—DeWayne Hamby


Book Reviews CR Dec 09 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Thursday, 17 December 2009 01:08 PM EST

StillStandingStill Standing

Carrie Prejean

Regnery Publishing

hardcover, 202 pages, $27.95


Prejean, former Miss California and Miss USA runner-up, gave the answer "heard round the world" last year when questioned by gossip blogger Perez Hilton about her stance on gay marriage. After offering her unpopular opinion, Prejean's career trajectory changed, a journey she details in Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, and Political Attacks.

Prejean speaks openly about her Christian faith and how she was encouraged to keep it under wraps by pageant officials even before being confronted with the infamous question. She details the fallout from her answer, including her firing from the Miss USA organization, meetings with Donald Trump, the surfacing of nude modeling photos and even the leaking of her parents' divorce papers to the press. Prejean doesn't set herself up as a victim or a hero, however, but rather someone who shared unpopular views with an angry audience.

With endorsements from Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter and a foreword from Sean Hannity, Still Standing is poised to appeal to a conservative political audience, but offers spiritual lessons in addition to cultural analysis.

—DeWayne Hamby

Points_of_PowerPoints of Power

Yolanda Adams


hardcover, 256 pages, $19.99


In Points of Power: Discover a Spirit-Filled Life of Joy and Purpose, recording artist and radio talk-show host Adams
offers stories of encouragement and hope in Christ.

Using examples from the Bible such as Joseph and Daniel, and individuals like Billy Graham and Chris Gardner, as well as her own life experiences, Adams relays uplifting stories of what it means to live a life focused on God and surrounded by His grace. She encourages readers to walk in obedience, freely confess shortcomings to Christ and allow Him to work in their hearts, so that they can live a life of power and purpose.

Points of Power is full of short stories and life-application questions, and is useful for the busy reader desiring spiritual growth.

—Heidi L. Ippolito

Happy_SpouseHappy Spouse...Happy House

Pat and Ruth Williams with Dave Wimbish

Standard Publishing

softcover, 224 pages, $14.99


Author and sports executive Williams and his wife, Ruth, offer marital advice in Happy Spouse...Happy House: The BEST Game Plan for a Winning Marriage. "BEST" is an acronym for Bless, Edify, Share and Touch.

The authors devote several chapters to each action.Though most of the principles apply to both spouses, Pat usually speaks to the male reader, while Ruth's segments target wives. One section could belong in a different book, as the authors devote nearly a chapter to choosing the right mate.

Most of the advice will be familiar to readers of marriage books, but the couple offers their own unique slant to keep it from becoming cliche. The understated premise of the authors' qualification is that they have between them 19 children, and both work in full-time careers requiring travel.

—John D. Leatherman

AnAmishGatheringAn Amish Gathering

Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron

Thomas Nelson

softcover, 400 pages, $14.99


With the backdrop of the Pennsylvania countryside, fans of romance fiction will enjoy sharing in the lives of Leah Petersheim, Rebecca Miller and Amanda Graber in this three-novella collection, An Amish Gathering: Life in Lancaster County.

Opening with "A Change of Heart," Leah teaches readers how to be themselves and follow their dreams. In "When Winter Comes," readers will learn from Rebecca how to overcome grief and fear, and know true forgiveness. Finally, in "A Place of His Own," Amanda is an example of a true friend who never gives up on the ones she loves.

Each novella centers on following God's will, and when it's least expected, He sends the right person to help. These heartwarming stories show humorous complications in courting while spotlighting lessons in true love. Extras include recipes, a glossary of Amish terms and a Reading Group Guide.

—Nicole Anderson

StartSomewhereStart Somewhere

Calvin Nowell with Gayla Zoz

Tyndale House Publishers

softcover, 224 pages, $14.99


Christian recording artist Nowell offers Start Somewhere: Losing What's Weighing You Down From the Inside Out as an encouragement to anyone who has ever felt trapped by unhealthy patterns.

Nowell shares memories from childhood that seem to have planted the seeds that would later grow into a lifestyle of secret sin. Overindulgence in food was the sin that eventually took over, though he managed to function for years keeping up the appearance that he had his life together.

But at his breaking point, he began to understand that God had wonderful plans for his life that he would never see unless he submitted his food addiction to Him. The process of changing his routines was difficult, but the most significant transformation was the one that took place in his heart and mind.

Readers will find Nowell's honesty and transparency touching. Though the topic of weight loss is central to the book, its themes are global and applicable for all readers.

—Bonnie Bruner

Forgotten-GirlsForgotten Girls

Kay Marshall Strom and Michele Rickett

IVP Books (InterVarsity Press)

softcover, 175 pages, $16


Author and speaker Strom and Sisters in Service founder Rickett are on a campaign to give voice to the voiceless victims of crime and depravity around the world: young women.

A follow-up to Daughters of Hope, which told the stories of persecuted Christian women, Forgotten Girls: Stories of Hope and Courage puts faces to the statistics of millions of persecuted girls throughout the world. Christian or not, young women are trapped in a cycle of poverty and oppression that Christians in the West—those who often have the resources and voices—have the ability to help.

Five sections—physical life, education, sexual protection, prison and war, and spiritual life—cover the gamut of issues oppressed women face today. While the book's stories are touching, and at times overwhelming, the authors are careful to infuse them with action steps the average person can take to help make a difference.

Forgotten Girls may not be a book readers want to read, but those who are interested in social justice will find it a helpful guide to awaken passion and educate them on the issues of global persecution that seriously affect women and children.

—Cara Davis

Becoming-LucyBecoming Lucy

Martha Rogers

Realms (Strang Book Group)

softcover, 304 pages, $10.99


In Becoming Lucy, the first entry into historical fiction from Strang Book Group and the first installment of the "Winds Across the Prairie" series, Boston heiress Lucinda Bishop's world is shaken when a tragic carriage accident takes both of her parents. She moves to her aunt and uncle's ranch in Oklahoma Territory, where she must find a way to face her grief and adjust to a primitive land.

Meanwhile, she and one of her uncle's cowboys fight a growing attraction for one another—for her, because he does not share her faith, and for him, because of a hidden and shameful past. When he becomes a Christian, he reveals his past and returns to Texas to face the law, leaving her to continue life in the wilds of Oklahoma wondering if he will return.

Becoming Lucy is populated with sweet, earnest characters whose simple faith in God remains strong even through horrendous circumstances such as the death of loved ones and the loss of most of their earthly possessions. The story takes a satisfying route to a happy ending, and Rogers' debut historical romance will appeal to fans of the genre.

—Allison Hyer


Book Reviews CR Nov 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Thursday, 22 October 2009 09:33 AM EDT

WhenHeavenComesDownWhen Heaven Comes Down

Ché Ahn

Chosen (Baker Publishing Group)

softcover, 192 pages, $13.99


In When Heaven Comes Down: Experiencing God's Glory in Your Life, Ahn explores the glory of God—what it is, how it is revealed, what it does and how to receive it.

The author maintains that God's glory is His manifest presence by which He reveals His goodness and displays His power through signs and wonders. Christians are called to glorify God and reflect His glory to the world. In other words, the glory of God brings about personal and societal transformation. Often His glory has manifested in revivals, and Ahn recounts the times in church history when this has been apparent and its effect on society.

Ahn's book will enlighten readers pursuing a deeper relationship with God, showing how that relationship produces fruit in the life of the believer and how the kingdom of God is extended through God's people.

—Deborah L. Delk

OneSimpleActOne Simple Act

Debbie Macomber

Howard Books

hardcover, 224 pages, $22.99


In One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity, popular author Macomber touches on the story of the boy with the meager lunch of fish and bread that Jesus was able to share with 5,000 people, as a perfect example of what God can do with what one might consider so small.

Macomber reminds her readers that there is much more to be given than money. The gifts of time, intercession, comfort or hospitality are among those acts of kindness that make a world of difference. These are the gifts that matter most.

One Simple Act is a wonderful book for anyone who is looking to find ways to be a blessing to others. Macomber offers assurance that no matter how big or small the act of kindness, when done in the love that Christ has shown His people, the act of kindness will never be in vain.

—Heidi L. Ippolito


Douglas LeBlanc

Thomas Nelson

hardcover, 176 pages, $17.99


As part of "The Ancient Practices Series," LeBlanc's Tithing: Test Me In This explores responses to the text of Malachi 3:10. This seventh book in the eight-part series devoted to spiritual disciplines of the Christian church features a foreword by eminent religion editor and writer Phyllis Tickle.

LeBlanc, a journalist, traverses the United States and talks with pastors, priests and rabbis from a diversity of traditions, including Episcopalians, Catholics and Orthodox Jews. He discovers in his conversations that there are believers who actually view tithing as an act of compassion, joy and generosity, rather than a rigid, legalistic requirement. Furthermore, he encounters believers who give altruistically; that is, they do not "give to get" manifold blessings.

Tithing, overall, is conversational, personal and practical. Readers will no longer view tithing as a burden. Instead, they will be inspired by the stories of those whose lives have been enriched by obeying God.

—C. Brian Smith


John B. Olson

B&H Fiction (B&H Publishing Group)

softcover, 400 pages, $14.99


Olson delivers a supernatural thriller in Powers, which, though a sequel to his novel Shade, is a self-contained story. Powers begins with Mariutza, raised in a Louisiana swamp by her grandfather, Purodad. He has trained her to be one of the Standing, a group to which God gives extrasensory powers against the Badness, Satan's human presence. When 10 cloaked men murder Purodad, his dying words send Mariutza on a quest for Jazzaniah the prophet and a treasure the Badness wants.

Meanwhile Jazzaniah, a struggling New Orleans musician, is experiencing strange visions leading him to Mariutza. Jazzaniah helps her find others of the Standing to aid their search while dodging police, FBI and shadowy government agencies convinced by the Badness that the Standing are a terrorist group.

The portions written in Mariutza's viewpoint may throw some readers since she does not understand everyday things such as automobiles and cell phones. Nonetheless, Powers offers a gripping plot that will keep the reader engaged.

—John D. Leatherman

savingcicadasSaving Cicadas

Nicole Seitz

Thomas Nelson

softcover, 320 pages, $14.99


In Saving Cicadas, 8-year-old Janie Macy is a normal kid, as far as she knows. She lives in a small town with her mother, Priscilla Lynn; her older sister Rainey Dae, who has Down Syndrome; and their grandparents. When her mother gets pregnant though, her whole world changes.

Janie begins to understand what is at stake when her grandparents tell her about abortion, and she and Rainey look it up online. When Janie's mother schedules an abortion, Grandma Mona decides Janie needs to try to stop it. To help her do so, she tells Janie some closely held family secrets.

Seitz deals with the weighty issue of abortion through the innocent eyes of a child. The supernatural surprise at the end makes for a somewhat far-fetched story, though the book's message is powerful. Through Janie's eyes, readers will see the abortion issue in black and white.

—Allison Hyer

dosomethingDo Something!

Miles McPherson

Baker Books (Baker Publishing Group)

hardcover, 224 pages, $19.99


In Do Something! Make Your Life Count, McPherson challenges readers to make a difference in their lives and communities through the love of Jesus. Each chapter offers teaching couched in a real-life story demonstrating a biblical truth.

McPherson shares his personal experiences in dealing with drug addiction, unhealthy relationships and the pressures that come with being a professional athlete. His painful journey eventually leads him to follow Christ. He shares stories of his friends and congregation members, showing how loving people can impact the world.

Myths about who can "do something" for the Lord often hide the truth that anyone with a willing and open heart can be used by God to do something amazing. With each teaching, McPherson offers a prayer and a tangible challenge to show love in a real way.

Do Something! is an inspirational read. Readers will appreciate the practical lessons, and the book's concise chapters, along with an available DVD curriculum, makes this book useful for small group discussion.

—Bonnie Bruner


Book Reviews CR October 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 01:35 PM EDT
Angels-On-AssignmentAngels on Assignment

Perry Stone

Charisma House (Strang Book Group)

hardcover, 176 pages, $15.99


In Angels on Assignment: God's Relentless Protection of You and Your Loved Ones, author and evangelist Stone places the spotlight on the issue of divine protection. He begins by discussing prayer and particularly intercession before addressing why bad things happen to good people and what can be done to prevent them.

Known for his Old Testament studies, Stone draws principles from the life of Jacob, particularly regarding what is known as the Mizpah Covenant between Jacob and his father-in-law, Laban.

The author stresses that biblical covenants can release the power of God's protection, which, in turn, brings the aid of angels. He also documents angelic visitations in other biblical stories—including a belief that the pre-incarnate Jesus appeared in angelic form—and his own personal experiences. Stone also instructs believers on how not to offend angels.

Angels on Assignment is an easy read with many bits of wisdom for life application. It will be especially helpful for readers facing doubts about God's power and compassion.

—DeWayne Hamby


John Bevere

WaterBrook Press

hardcover, 240 pages, $22.99


In Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live, Bevere gives grace back its full biblical meaning and power. Not only does salvation come through grace, but it also provides the power to live a dynamic godly life.

Grace cannot be earned, and love comes unconditionally, but God is pleased with faith. True believers will desire to please God, not just want to escape hell, Bevere asserts.

The author believes that Christians need to stop seeing themselves as poor sinners saved by grace who will barely make it into heaven. Instead, they ought to see themselves as full citizens of God's kingdom with access to His power to overcome sin and make positive changes on Earth. Bevere also cautions that believers ought not to think of faith as means to selfish gain, but as empowerment to serve.

An effective discipleship resource for a small group or one-on-one mentoring, Extraordinary is an inoculation against unbelief for those who have never understood the overcoming power of faith and a booster shot for those that have.

—Deborah L. Delk


YearLivngLikeJesusThe Year of Living Like Jesus

Ed Dobson


hardcover, 304 pages, $19.99


The title and cover of pastor Dobson's The Year of Living Like Jesus: My Journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do immediately bring to mind its inspiration—A.J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically—in part because Jacobs himself wrote the foreword to Dobson's book.

Dobson acknowledges the source of his inspiration in the introduction for his year-long journal. Whereas Jacobs, a nonreligious Jew, set out to chronicle what it would be like to live out what the Bible says literally, Dobson set out to live more intentionally the way Jesus, who was also a Jew, did.

The inevitable comparison to Jacobs' work ends there, however. Jacobs' writing was meant to be a humorous study in cultural oddities, but Dobson's is based on his own sincere attempt to live more like Jesus.

The book is helpful for those who want to learn more about the culture in which Jesus lived. And Dobson's personal reflections on living with a terminal, slowly progressing form of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) are especially poignant.

—Cara Davis

ShadesOfBlueShades of Blue

Karen Kingsbury


softcover, 336 pages, $14.99


Kingsbury's Shades of Blue explores the harsh realities of abortion through the lives of her characters.

Brad Cutler and Laura James are engaged to be married in only six weeks when a secret from his past suddenly begins to affect the prospect of his future. Though he now follows Christ, Brad can no longer hide the truth about a previous relationship.

Emma Landon, his high school love, has been living broken and alone for nine years. As a teacher, she shows her students love, but her sadness tarnishes every day. With deep humility and strong faith, Brad seeks forgiveness from his first love for the worst decision of his life.

Kingsbury's bold handling of this difficult topic is fairly balanced, but charged with emotion. Mature readers will appreciate how God's grace and forgiveness are demonstrated in a tragic situation.

—Bonnie Bruner


Tracey Bateman

WaterBrook Press

softcover, 384 pages, $13.99


Thirsty, the first thriller from romance fiction author Bateman, grabs readers with each turn of the page as recovering alcoholic Nina Hunt is forced to return to her hometown of Abbey Hills, Mo., even though she vowed she would never come back.

On the day Nina and her daughter, Meg, arrive with Nina's sister Jill, a dead body is found cut with occult markings and with its blood drained. While her sister—the town's sheriff—is solving murders, Nina struggles each day with the temptation of alcohol and works on restoring her estranged relationships.

Needing someone to talk to, she befriends Markus, the mysterious, handsome neighbor next door—who holds the secret to the unsolved murders and animal killings in Abbey Hills.

This well-written suspense tale will give readers an adrenaline rush that brings to life old folklore and vampires who thirst for blood in the night.

—Nicole Anderson

MasterLeadersMaster Leaders

George Barna with Bill Dallas

BarnaBooks (Tyndale House Publishers)

hardcover, 256 pages, $24.99


Barna joins forces with Dallas to extract secrets from great leaders in Master Leaders: Revealing Conversations With 30 Leadership Greats. Barna initially prepared a series of 150 questions, spending one-on-one time with each leader. But instead of including a dry transcript of the results, he presents the content in a conversational setting—the fictional backstage or "green room" of Master Leaders conference.

Readers "listen" in on the dialogue and, at times, disagreement and debate. The roster includes pastors (Erwin McManus), college presidents (Sam Chand), CEOs (Jimmy Blanchard), clinical psychologists (Henry Cloud and John Townsend), military (Bob Dees), professors (John Kotter of Harvard), film producers (Ralph Winter), athletes (Tony Dungy) and politicians (Mike Huckabee).

Chapters focus on such issues as vision and values, trust, conflict and confrontation and building teams.

Master Leaders will reach a wide audience, including students and professionals, with readers learning the 16 key facets of leadership. Chock full of wisdom, this book will help existing or aspiring leaders take their skills to a higher level.

—C. Brian Smith

misunderstoodGodThe Misunderstood God

Darin Hufford

Windblown Media (Hachette Book Group)

softcover, 224 pages, $13.99


In The Misunderstood God: The Lies Religion Tells Us About God, the first new nonfiction release from the publisher of The Shack, Hufford confronts a skewed idea of the nature of Christ perpetuated by teachers, preachers and believers in general. The author addresses these misconceptions and then asks who would want to love a god that beats a person down, judges unmercifully, betrays or abandons if one wrong move is made?

Hufford, however, challenges readers to cast out the image they've been taught. He encourages them instead to open the Bible and read it anew to search out who Christ really is and to discover God's genuine love for His people.

The Misunderstood God provides a refreshing and quite freeing perspective as to the true identity of Christ and the love He has for His people, as Hufford expounds on 1 Cor. 13. This is a wonderful book for anyone who is ready to rediscover Christ.

—Heidi L. Ippolito


Book Reviews CR Sept 21 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Production   
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 03:30 PM EDT

CHURCH-OF-FACEBOOKThe Church of Facebook

Jesse Rice

David C. Cook

softcover, 240 pages, $12.99


The social networking site that has exploded in popularity is the subject of The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community. The author calls attention to how the online world is reshaping community, focusing on the need for connection.

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